Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (CEV)
It’s New Year– that magical time of hope and possibility when we celebrate blank spaces on calendars, the return of fruits and veggies to our diets, and increased gym memberships. January is that glorious month when we resolve to be better versions of ourselves. February is when we finally succumb to wine and chocolate.
I’m not mocking New Year’s resolutions. I think they can be a very powerful tool for self-improvement. However, it’s important to understand why we’re resolving to eat healthier, exercise more, spend less, be kinder, forgive, etc…The fundamental question we should be considering in the New Year isn’t how we are going to change; rather, we should be considering whether or not we really want to change.
Change is hard work. It requires a shift in mindset, and because our brains are hardwired in patterns of behavior, shifting our mindset takes a lot of time and practice. Paul understood this. When Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, his entire life changed. But, it didn’t happen overnight. When Paul was re-gifted his ability to see, it was just the beginning of a long and arduous process of change. Paul left behind his power, his wealth, his family, and even his name to follow Christ. While Paul became a new creation in Christ, his life became immensely more complicated and difficult than it had been before.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the process of change. He told them that in Christ, they were made new. However, there’s a caveat. Look at the passage again:
Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.
In order to become a new creation, you first have to let go of the past. And, once you’ve managed to set aside the dreams, hurts, ambitions, fears, disappointments, and even joys of the past, you still have work to do. Paul writes that God sent Christ to make peace between himself and us. Therefore, as God’s new creation, we are called to continue that work Jesus began–going into the world and making peace between God and others. The Message puts it this way:
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.
As Christians, we’re Christ’s representatives in the world. Being a new creation in God means going about the work of reconciliation–reconciliation with ourselves, reconciliation with others, reconciliation with God. But again, in order to be God’s new creation, we have to want to change. We have to want the reconciliation, and then we have to work to help bring it about.
I’ve thought a lot about change in this New Year….about what it might look like to live as a new creation in God in 2018. I’ve decided to adopt John Wesley’s second rule of living as my motto for 2018: Do good. Wesley’s call to “Do good” goes beyond basic human decency to “doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men…” (John Wesley, “The Nature, Design, and General Rules of Our United Societies”, umc.org.) For me, this includes practicing goodness and mercy in actions, thoughts, and words–not always an easy task for an opinionated know-it-all! 🙂
So, whatever you resolve to do this New Year, I encourage you to first ask yourself if you really want to change. Then, pray about how and why you and God might work together as you become a new creation.
Blessings and Peace,