Summary: For many of us, a new year is a time for resolutions and getting rid of bad habits. Today is January the 8th…so far, so good! Someone was writing down New Year resolutions: “Gain weight, save less money, set realistic goals.”
Norman Vincent Peal spent New Year’s Eve in Rome. A friend warned him to stay inside his hotel for his own safety, because people have a habit of throwing old, unwanted things out their windows on New Year’s Eve. He explained, “If you should be walking down the street, you’re likely to have an old typewriter bounce off your head.” Peale looked out his hotel window at midnight and saw all sorts of items coming out of windows. Away with the old was the idea.
For many of us, a new year is a time for resolutions and getting rid of bad habits. Today is January the 8th…so far, so good! Someone was writing down New Year resolutions: “Gain weight, save less money, set realistic goals.”
Most of us feel confident about a new year and a new start. Politicians are optimistic about new legislation; economists feel positive about first quarter growth; the Red Sox are optimistic about the new season; pastors are hopeful that their congregations will renew their commitment to Christ. It’s an encouraging time of year.
Maybe you’d like some changes to occur. The newness which Jesus brings will last. We’re ready to ring out the old, ring in the new! We learn from the past, but we choose not to live in the past. Hoping for a new beginning isn’t mere wishful thinking. We’re convinced that God is with us, that He wants what’s best for us, and is working all things together for good.
Think about Genesis and the Book of Revelation…The Bible opens with a beginning, and closes with a beginning. Creation is the first word, and new creation is the last word. The Greek word “new” in verse 5 means new and improved, better than we can imagine!
Our salvation is something Jesus has done, is doing right now, and will do. Looking ahead, we affirm the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. One day Jesus will right every wrong and create a New Earth. A new order will replace the old order, this sin-polluted, broken world of ours. We’ll have transformed, immortal, resurrection bodies--a new bodily life with new properties, not subject to disease, injury, or decay. We’ll have “bodies that are more solid, more real, more complete than our present ones” (N.T. Wright).
One way Jesus makes “all things new” right now is explained in II Corinthians 5:17, “All who are in Christ are new creations; the old way of life is passing away, and all things are in a process of becoming new.” The Holy Spirit guides our growth, in what theologians call sanctification, a transforming process, making us reflect Christ’s holy character in all we do and desire.
The newness Jesus brings about has several aspects: By His sacrifice, we have new birth; by His word we have a new direction; by His promises we have new confidence, and by His church we have new resources for spiritual growth.
God makes all things new! We have a bright new hope. We’re not yet what we should be, but we’re not what we once were--without hope and without God. Vaclav Havel, former poet, playwright and President of the Czech Republic, was a man who had plenty of time to think about hope. He was a dissident during decades of Soviet rule. As a member of the Prague Underground he was frequently arrested. Yet he maintained hope. He made the following distinction: ‘‘Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” We trust God, even when our situation isn’t improving.
Sometimes we think we can’t wait for change. We’re prone to improve life by means that diminish it. We can become enslaved by things we think will help us cope with the stresses of life, only to discover these things have taken over and are destroying us rather than improving our lives. Seeking control, we lose control by becoming enslaved by habits that ruin our lives.
We’re longing for our true home in this fallen world of ours. Yet renewal can start right now. I know it sometimes seems hopeless, especially after watching the evening news. I saw a t-shirt that says “Where’s the Rapture when you need it?” According to a Pew research study, nearly half of American Christians believe we’re living in the Last Days. Whether it’s soon or not, we don’t have to wait for the return of Christ for some things to be made right. And we need not live in fear. If we’re trusting the One who holds the last minute, we need not fear the next minute. The future can impact the present, because we know the outcome. We are “more than conquerors through Christ who loves us,” Romans 8:37. He makes all things new. What God will do for us He will do for our broken world--an act of new creation and the ultimate answer to the Lord’s Prayer. God’s Kingdom will come and His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.