Summary: In Christ, we are supposed to be a new creation but we don’t always feel like new creations. We will hear some suggestions make "the old is gone and the new has come" into a reality.
January 6, 2008
Happy New Year! A new year. New opportunities. New hope. This is a reminder that we don’t have to get stuck in the same old patterns of last year. So we make a (or several) New Year’s resolutions. I resolve that in 2008 I will or will stop…? Did any of you make any resolutions? That you would like to share? Lose weight? Join a health club? Join the Y? A militant group?
I honestly don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. I really don’t need to wait until January 1 to make a promise that have no intention of breaking (but I end up breaking it anyway). But I recognize that this holiday often has a way of causing us (sometimes) to stop and reflect. And it is here that I see a great connection to following Jesus. God calls us to listen to His voice and follow Him wherever God leads. Of course this is hardly new.
This is the same old story. Jesus died on the cross so that I might live. Ya dee da. Ya dee da. “Give us something fresh. Some new insight that no one has ever had before. Do something spectacular that I will never forget.”
But no. I think I will stick with what is Hardly New. Because God’s story is a great, grand story that transcends time, literally. It is when we hear God’s story that maybe we can begin to see our story connecting with His. Let’s look at passage that is hardly new: 2 Corinthians 5:16.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Paul was saying that when we look at ourselves and look at others, we should look through the eyes of Jesus. We look through the eyes of grace and we tell others through words and deeds that God still desires to be with us and us with Him. Of course the pivotal verse is in verse 17 (hardly new for some of you): Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
The problem is there are times when we don’t feel like we are a new creation. Like the group of women that met for an afternoon of lunch and shopping. At lunch they began to share some of the things in their lives. Superficially at first but then they moved into more intimate topics and details. It was like peeling an onion.
Finally one shared how she had recently cheated on her husband. There was silence for a few moments when a woman spoke up, “I cheated on my husband a few years ago. It took me a long while to work through the guilt and now I’m ok. So don’t beat yourself up. Everyone does it. Let’s see a show of hands in this group of women who have stayed faithful to their husbands.”
Only one woman raised her hand. One of the women who didn’t raise her hand went home to her husband. Her husband asked how the afternoon went. At first she was hesitant. Then she began to tell her husband about the conversation at lunch. “Only one other woman raised her hand. I didn’t even though I have been faithful and never cheated on you.”
“Why didn’t you raise your hand?” her husband asked.
“I was ashamed.”
She was ashamed of doing what was right in God’s eyes and couldn’t bring herself to admit it. She didn’t feel like a new creation at that moment.
So if this is a problem that is hardly new, what can we do about it.
• Continual renewal
Sometimes worship seems hardly new. Sometimes we are beaten down by life’s problems and our faith seems old and worn. We feel used up. Take time to be renewed. When we turn from Jesus again and when we quickly forget the wonders of His grace, let us return to our first love. He hasn’t given up on us so let us not give up on Him.