Summary: This message examines being a new creation in Christ and what that means for us.
The Looking-Glass Self: Much of who we think we are arises from who others say we are.
- There is a sociological idea developed by Charles Cooley in 1902 called the “looking glass self.” The idea is straightforward: much of who we believe ourselves to be comes from what others think of us.
- If people praise how smart you are, you will increasingly see yourself as smart. If people praise your athleticism, you will presume that you are good at sports. If people praise you as generous, you will see yourself in that way.
- There is obviously a lot of truth to this idea, although there are certainly other factors at play.
- For our purposes this morning, the importance of this idea relates to these two verses in 2 Corinthians 5 and who we believe ourselves to be spiritually.
- I want to dig into two of the main pictures we have of ourselves, but let’s begin by exploring two pictures of Jesus.
Two Pictures of Jesus:
1. Jesus, from the world’s view: He was a crucified messianic pretender.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16 – “we once regarding Christ in this way.”
- Paul says something in v. 16 that’s easily overlooked because of how big the truths are that v. 17 shares. The second half of v. 16 notes that Paul used to regarded Christ from a worldly point of view.
- What does that mean?
- The most obvious explanation is the way that Paul saw Jesus before his Damascus Road experience. Paul worked zealously and wholeheartedly to stamp out this new movement of Jesus’ followers because he was thoroughly convinced that it represented something that was opposed to the will of God. After “seeing the light” (both physically and spiritually), Paul came to a radically different view.
- Paul once regarded Jesus from a “worldly point of view.” From that perspective, Jesus was a crucified messianic pretender. What’s that mean? He was someone who claimed to be the Messiah that the Jews were waiting on, but rather than fulfilling those expectations He ended up crucified as a common criminal. This was the way the rest of the world looked at Him – an obvious conclusion for those who are not believers in Jesus.
2. Jesus, from the Bible’s view: A resurrected, glorified Being that death and sin could no longer touch.
- The Biblical view is obviously wildly different. From that perspective, Jesus is a resurrected, glorified Being. He was raised from the dead. He had a new type of body than He did before death. He had overcome death. He was no longer tempted by sin. It was an amazing thing.
- There are a couple points I want to make coming out of this.
- First, I want to note the massive differences between the two views. It obviously makes an enormous difference which of these two views you hold to. They are worlds apart.
- Second, it’s important to understand how good the second option is. It’s amazing. It’s tremendous.
- Now, having laid out those differences, I want to focus on the most important part of this passage: v. 17. I want to take the truths of that verse and apply them to the way that we see ourselves.
Two Pictures of You:
1. You, from the world’s view: You’re a weak person desperately crying out to an invisible God to bail you out of your mess.
- When we turn to God, many people view that as a sign of weakness. Strong people handle their own problems. Strong people don’t need outside help. Weak people call on God because they can’t handle it themselves.
- Further, you’re calling out to Someone who may not even be there. Is belief in God just an attempt to comfort ourselves that we’re not alone in the universe? Is it just a transparent effort to infuse meaning into our otherwise pointless lives?
- Some look at people who go to AA or church and pity them. It’s better than nothing, but it’s too bad they weren’t strong enough to make on their own.
- So, in the end, many see faith as a crutch.
2. You, from the Bible’s view: You’re a transformed new creation fully able to live out God’s best now.
- God has come into your life not merely to save you but also to transform you. We often say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” That’s almost true. The actual truth is that you were a sinner saved by grace. After you got saved, you were changed into a new creation in Christ. That new being is fully capable of living out what God has planned for you. You have the Holy Spirit within you to direct and comfort you. You have the Word of God to know truth. You have Christians around you to support you. But the most important thing within all that is that you have been given a new nature.