Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The New Beginning of the Same Old Stuff

Today is the first business day of the new year.  In many ways, the new year is a new beginning.  Your income (for tax purposes) is back to zero.  If you have annual vacation banks, they are filled once again.  Medical plans have reset their annual limits.  Unfortunately, many things do not renew themselves. Your debt on January 1 is the same as December 31, for example.  If you are sick just before the new year, you are probably still sick just after the new year.  This reminds of me what it is like to come to Christ.  Coming to Jesus is a new beginning, but many things also remain in our lives.  What changes in our hearts and our relationship to God, what does not change is our circumstances in the world. 
Therefore, if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
The interesting thing about this passage is that while all things are new, many things are the same.  When you come to Jesus, if you were in debt, you are still in debt.  Many criminals in prison have come to Jesus yet still remain in the same setting with the same sentence.  This is even true for those who have converted while on death row.  The Bible declares all things to be new, yet the world circumstances still tell you that they are the same.  Obviously they both can't be right, or can they? 

Obviously we know the Bible can not be wrong.  Obviously your credit card statement or the reality of your life circumstances are also very real.  What is different, though, is your heart.  That does change everything.  Even those things that are old are new again because you are looking at them through different eyes.  You may have been sinking in debt, but now you have a God who promises to provide your needs.  You may have some harsh living circumstances, but now you have the hope that the reality of those circumstance are only for a brief time until you enter you true eternal home in paradise.  Whatever our circumstances in life may have been, coming to Jesus changes them because He changes your heart and with a new heart comes new perspectives.  Not only that, you once faced those problems in your own strength whereas now you have the omnipotent omniscient God who will answer your prayers and give you the help and wisdom you need to face and overcome your circumstances.  Finally, whereas before all we saw was the reality in this life, we now have the hope of the eternal and glorious life to come. 

When we come to Jesus, our lives truly begin.  What we once were is no longer and we are now newborn babes in Jesus Christ.  Our hearts are new, our spirits are filled, we are no longer under the bondage to sin, and we are no longer under the condemnation of God.  We are now children of God and coheirs with Christ.  Whatever abilities we once had are no longer relevant in kingdom unless God chooses to redirect those abilities for use in His kingdom.  Whatever fears we once had are no longer relevant because God will challenge those fears to teach us to rely upon Him.  Whatever weaknesses we once had are no longer relevant as we now work in the strength of Jesus.  Whatever inabilities we once had are irrelevant as we live in the promise that we can do all things through Christ.  Whatever was important to us is no longer relevant as we learn to deny our selves and become others-centered instead of self-centered.  Whatever was once most important to us in the world has been replaced by God who has now consumed us and all that we once thought really mattered.  Such is the new creations that we are, all at once cleaning the slate of all we once were and now learning to be all that we can become in Christ. 

So we we enter into this new year think of this as a great time to recommit yourselves to being that new creation you were made in Christ.  Put away that self that has crept back into your life.  Let go of those grudges that have developed over the past year and truly forgive those who may have hurt you.  Give whatever problems in life you are trying to solve in your own strength to God and allow Him to do that work.  Lay those anxieties you have built up at the cross and take on only the easy yoke of Christ.  You are a child of the living God and a new creation in Christ. That reality should define every other reality we face. 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39 NKJV

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