Summary: This sermon is about new beginnings. We all mess up. And because we all mess up, we like to start over. But after too many disappointments we often give up. However, the Bible speaks of a "new creation"--and then we become abassadors of Jesus!
We all mess up. We say things we later wish we could take back. We do things we wish we could undo. We miss opportunities. This happens in all spheres of our lives. Sometimes we make mistakes at work, sometimes we hurt the people we love, sometimes we disappoint God.
And because we all mess up, we like to start over—to turn our backs on the past, to look forward, to hope that this time round, things are going to be better.
There’s something exciting about starting over—new challenges, new experiences, new opportunities. I love starting a new year. I have plans, things I’d like to accomplish, big challenges ahead of me. Looking back over the past year, I realise there are some things I’d like to do differently. Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts…
I remember what it was like for me to start a new year at school: new books, new textbooks, sometimes new teachers and new subjects. And then there were all the New Year’s resolutions: This year I’m going to write neatly. I’m going to do my homework everyday. I’m going to exercise regularly. And so the list begins.
I don’t think I’m so different. I think people generally like to start over. I think that’s why young people look forward to leaving school and going to university. I suspect that’s why some people are continuously starting new relationships. Perhaps that’s why we all like opportunities to rededicate our lives to God.
For Warren and Belinda today is such a day. It’s a day heralding a new start, a new dedication—to Courtney, to each other, to God. They’ve promised to work together to give little Courtney the best opportunities—physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.
Yes, we all like to start over. Why? Because the future holds the hope for something better.
II. Lost Hope
But things don’t always stay this way. After too many disappointments we often give up, we lose hope. A person can only start over so many times before you begin to wonder, “What’s the point? What makes you think you’re not going to mess it up again?”
Of course, people vary. The number of disappointments necessary before someone gives up hope differs from person to person.
The Bible tells a story of a lady who had reached this point, who had lost all hope:
Sighing deeply, she picks up the earthen jar and places it on her shoulder. With her free hand she opens the door. Suddenly the heat hits her and for a few seconds she can’t see a thing. Then her eyes begin to adapt to the white light outside. She bends over slightly and walks through the low door.
Outside it’s quiet. Not dead quiet—the cicadas are buzzing in the trees. But there is no-one in sight. She’s alone. She looks up and down the dusty street but doesn’t see any of the other women. With another sigh she begins to walk to the outskirts of town.
The woman is on her way to fetch water. It’s not a good time to fetch water. In fact, it’s not a good time to be outside. The sun has reached its zenith and seems to hang in the air as it beats down mercilessly on her. She could have chosen a cooler time of the day, but that would have meant facing the other women.
You see, this woman is the town’s local “bad girl”. She’s not married to the man she’s currently living with. She’s already had five husbands. Five times she’s tried to start over. Five times she’s tried to build a new life. And now she’s given up on marriage, given up on happiness, given up hope.
For her there is no turning back. No new start. No new beginning. She’s accepted her lot as an outcast. She’s learned to live without hope.
It’s tragic to admit, but this woman is not alone in reaching this point of hopelessness. After too many disappointments, it can happen to anyone. After a while, you may begin to feel that there just isn’t a new beginning for you.
III. A New Creation
However, the Bible does not agree with this feeling. In stark contrast the Bible speaks of a completely new beginning:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17; NIV)
A “new creation”—the Greek word used here is ktisis. If anyone has dedicated himself or herself to Christ, that person is a new ktisis. The two major meanings of ktisis are: (1) the creative act, the act of creation or (2) the thing created, the creation itself.
2 Cor 5:17 thus means that when someone has decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus, Jesus begins a new “act of creation” in their lives. They aren’t merely reformed or rehabilitated. No, they are recreated. They become a brand new person from within. And they begin a brand new life.