It doesn't take very much living to realize that the world is not as it should be. We live with corruption, illness, and death from without and cycles of sin and shame from within. But as Christians, we have a present reality and future hope that helps us make it through a fallen world: God is making all things new. Those of us who know Christ are becoming brand new, and through Christ, God is making everything new. One day He will return to complete that work of renewal.
Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone in Christ is a "new creation." That phrase, "new creation," could translate as "new creatures." A new creature is something that didn't exist before. When we are in Christ, we are not just repaired, but replaced; not just remodeled, but remade. When we trust Christ, we become brand new.
Only in Christ does this renewal happen. We can strive to make improvements to ourselves in our own power, but without Christ, we're just upgraded versions of our old operating systems. In Christ, we have a totally new system! As Paul tells us in Second Corinthians, "the old is gone; the new has come."
New Minds, New Eyes
In Christ, our minds and perspectives are totally renewed. God gives us Christ's mind and Christ's eyes. When we see with Christ's perspective, we can see others as God sees them -- with love, grace, and compassion. With Christ's eyes, we can see our bad circumstances through the lens of God's redemptive plan. With Christ's eyes, we can view our gifts and resources as tools for God's kingdom. And with Christ's eyes, we can see ourselves as new creatures, and live our lives accordingly. The Holy Spirit helps us to see this way, comforting, guiding, and encouraging us along the way.
So if we have been made new, why don't we always feel new? Why doesn't our outside seem to line up with our insides? Well, becoming a new creation isn't just a one-time event, but a process. Christ has made us new already, but He is continuing to make our lives new, to help us become in practice what we already are before God.
Sometimes, we hinder the renewal process because we are still attached to the old -- to the person we were before Christ came into our lives. We have a choice, every day, to set our minds on the new -- to put away the dead past and live in the renewed, present-future grace of God. We must daily put the sin nature to death and live according to the Holy Spirit. This involves trusting God and yielding to him.
The good news is we're not in this journey alone. God has made the church as a brand new community of love that embodies Christ's work and will. Together, we encourage and sharpen one another in our individual and collective journeys of renewal. Together, we seek God's Kingdom and work out his will in the world around us.
We can persevere in the work of the Kingdom, both individually and collectively, because of the hope we have in Christ that one day, God will make all things new. When Christ returns, all of this broken creation will be made new. Our individual renewal will be complete, as we get new bodies to match our new minds and spirits. And our relationship with God will be new -- it will be deeper and constant, for "God himself will be with them and be their God."
These words from Revelation give us hope that God will do what he has said he will do, because he has already accomplished it:
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life."
Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end, has begun a new work in us, and he will finish it. We place our hope in his promise, as we wait for his return.
What would you like to lay hold of this New Year? Maybe you're in need of hope. Today, remember that Christ is our hope for personal and worldwide renewal. He is faithful to the end.