So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5.17)
As we begin a New Year, these words from 2 Corinthians are worth remembering. For Paul, more important than any of shiny new Christmas presents or well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions is the “new creation” that God brings about in us through the gracious influence of Jesus Christ.
For most of us, the suggestion that some kind of wonderful change could take place in our lives without our effort, cooperation, or initiative is hard to take seriously. Usually, even minor changes require careful deliberation, extraordinary motivation, and a substantial expenditure of funds. Even then, the results are often modest, at best.
But Paul was convinced that something revolutionary has taken place in us – something that can change the direction of both individuals and communities! Was this just wishful thinking? A delusion? The product of an over-active imagination? Or is this something that we should take seriously, even though we haven’t noticed any dramatic changes taking place in our souls? Could God somehow have planted a tiny seed within us that is quietly growing stronger, just waiting for an opportunity to burst forth with unimaginable beauty and power? It may seem highly unlikely – even impossible – to some of us, but if it IS true, can we afford to miss the chance to enjoy it and cultivate it?
In the same way, it’s hard to imagine churches changing very much. Churches are notorious for their glacial rate of change. These days, large numbers of people have given up on churches as having anything relevant to contribute to the quality of their daily lives. Churches often seem too preoccupied with maintaining their buildings and underwriting their shrinking budgets to care about the needs and problems of the “real” world.
But strangely, more and more churches today are discovering a “new creation” taking place within them. The seed of the gospel, which for so long seemed dead or dormant, is being rediscovered as a vital, creative, live-giving dynamo for growth and change. As its roots sink ever more deeply into the soil of people’s lives, the tired and weary are finding new energy and nourishment. It’s blowing open the closed doors of self-serving ecclesiastical institutions and offering the world its ripening fruit.
The promise of the year before us doesn’t lie in the boldness of our ambitions, the grandeur of our dreams, or our determination to win popular acclaim. Instead, the promise lies in the spiritual power and resources that God is bringing to life within us and among us. Jesus once said that, “With God, all things are possible!” This may be the year for us to discover just how true those words really are!
Happy New Year,