New Creation!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Happy New Year!

So it's 2011. A new year. The crystal ball fell in Times Square last night. Our computers and cell phones magically shifted from 2010 to 2011. The Rose Parade will roll today (and if I'm healthy and the weather cooperates, I should be there to check out the unique, flower-covered floats). College football teams will battle it out in various bowls, most of which are named after corporations, and none of which will decide the national championship. We have to wait until January 10 for that. Oh, how times change!

Or do they? Apart from the shifting of one number in the calendar, is anything really different today? It's a new year. But is our country new? Our world? Are you new? How about your health, your family, your emotional state? Is anything really new?

Changing the calendar doesn't really make anything that matters new. We know that. And, though a few people might actually alter their lives with new year's resolutions, the vast majority of us will fail utterly to do what we have resolved. A new year doesn't provide new discipline and motivation.

Genuine newness doesn't come from calendars or culture. It doesn't come from well-wishing or willpower. Real, lasting, pervasive newness comes from God and God alone. It comes through God's grace in Jesus Christ. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

In fact, the Greek original of this verse envisions a wider newness than is suggested in the translation I just used. A more literal translation would read: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old things have passed away. Look, they have become new!" When we put our faith in Christ, we become new people. But we also begin to live in an altogether new reality, with new values, purposes, and dreams. To be sure, the newness of Christ isn't complete at the moment of our conversion. We are still waiting for the completion of God's renewal in the future. But, through Christ, we can begin to actually experience the new creation today.

We taste the new creation when we receive God's forgiveness and therefore offer forgiveness to one who has wronged us. We taste the new creation when we live each day for God's purposes, serving him in every facet of life. We taste the new creation when we strive to treat all people with justice, and to care for the poor and the oppressed. We taste the new creation when we gather with God's people for worship, service, and celebration.

Yes, the date on the calendar is new today. But will you live as part of Christ's new creation?

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever make New Year's resolutions? Have you ever been able to keep them? How do you experience new life in Christ?

PRAYER: God who makes all things new, I praise you for the fact that I am new through Christ. To be sure, there are times when I don't feel so new. And there are plenty of times when I don't act so new. Yet, the truth is that you have begun to make me new. How I thank you!

O Lord, the fact that we're in a new year won't make much of a difference in my life. Only you can make that difference. Only you can help me live as part of your new creation. May it be so, Lord! By your Spirit, help me to live, not in my old flesh, but in the newness of your life.

All praise be to you, O God, the source of renewal and hope. Amen.