Summary: What it means to be a new Creation in Christ
“When I grow up I want to be a ….” How many of you can recall your childhood ending to this phrase? Did you wish to be a firefighter, a farmer, or even a schoolteacher? When I was a child, I wanted to be a number of things. I wanted to be a conductor/brakeman like my dad and grandpa. I wanted to be a Fireman/paramedic because my favorite TV show as Emergency!, and I wanted to be an oceanographer. Well that came out of my love for Jacques Cousteau Specials and the movie Jaws.
But most of all, I wanted to go to West Point and become an officer in the United States Army. I had already contacted the United States Military Academy at the beginning of my eighth grade year. I had even contacted my senator so to ensure I would be on the list. I was just that convinced that I was going to be an officer in the United States Army.
However, God had other plans…On March 15 of 1982; my life’s plans were changed. I had an epileptic seizure, and with it, all my dreams of West Point went out the window, as well as my dreams of exploring the deep sea as an oceanographer/marine biologist.
Now here I am 25 years later a pastor in the United Methodist Church. This was not what I had envisioned for myself. However I can still see glints of those dreams I had so many years ago. I may not be an officer in the military, but I have been called to lead. I do get to move from place to place. I have been deployed, so to speak, far from where I grew up. God has called me to be in His Army.
So, what do you want to be when you grow up? In our scripture readings, we see examples of those growing and learning about their faith. Whether it is Naaman learning to trust God through Elisha, or the 70 disciples who are sent out as missionaries in the local communities. These represent the opportunities to see how “grown up” or how much growing up they have to do.
Paul said in Galatians that we are all new creations in Christ, and before that in verses 9 and 10 he said;
And let us never slacken in doing good; for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time. So then, as long as we have the opportunity let all our actions be for the good of everybody, and especially of those who belong to the household of the faith.
In other words do not rest on what you have already accomplished, we need to always be growing and maturing in our faith. In our Wesleyan Tradition, we call that growing to perfection.
So are we grown up? Have we reached that point where grace can find nothing else to perfect in us? I know I have not reached that point yet. Even those disciples that Jesus sent out were far from reaching that point. Remember what he said to them when they came back rejoicing and talking about all the things they did? Let us look at verses 17-20 of Luke chapter 10
The seventy-two came back rejoicing. "Lord," they said, "even the devils submit to us when we use your name."
He said to them, "I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20 NJB)
What a curious response to their proclamations. Why do you suppose he decided then to tell them about seeing Satan’s fall from Heaven during the rebellion? Why was Lucifer cast down from Heaven? He was cast down because of his own personal pride. Doesn’t he still think he should be the overlord god, if you will? Didn’t the devil let his own pride overtake him and get in the way of his worship of God?
Well Jesus is reminding the disciples that, yes, what they did was good and wonderful. However, they should not let it go to their heads. Their real joy should come in the knowledge that one day, they will be in heaven.
So again, Paul is repeating to us, as well as the Galatians, the lesson of Jesus. He reminds us that the most important thing for us to remember is that we are new creations in Christ. We need not go around boasting about what great Christians we may be or appear to be
Our boasting instead should come in the form of the joy we receive in the knowledge that we have been promised perfection in Christ. We should rejoice in the fact that no matter what we have done in our lives, through Christ Jesus we have been washed and made clean.