Are things really that “new” as we begin a new year? As we experience the first few days of 2019, what’s different? Most of us are going to be living in the same place, driving the same vehicle, involved in the same relationships, dressing in the same clothing and eating the same food. Outside of some slight variations, how will our lives be notably changed?
Yes, maybe some of our new year’s resolutions will “kick in,” and there will be a renewed freshness and excitement to our daily living. But can we realistically expect improvement since we’ve finished 365 days, and have started the cycle anew? This may seem like a cynical outlook, but if we refuse to make any changes to our lives or conveniently resort back to the status quo, nothing will ever seem new to us. And boy, do we like clinging to the same old routine, even if it’s at our own demise.
When I was a pastor in Upstate New York, I once heard a story about a guy who worked at a local factory. Each day after work, he would literally go to the same convenience store and buy a twelve pack of beer. He would take it home, drink all of it, and the practice would resume the next day. Outside of serious health implications this is what he did to get by. No change, the same old thing. We can choose to stay on this kind of path for another year, but we shouldn’t expect anything in our lives to be “new and improved.” The only, I mean only thing that will bring transformation and hope to our hungry souls is by faith, welcoming Jesus into our hearts and minds. Because when there is an openness to Christ, our lives will be touched and given meaning.
In II Corinthians 5:17 it is written, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” So, what does this mean? When we come to realize that life is not all about us, but there is something far greater, God, then the old has passed away, and we are a new creation. When we come to realize that we are sinful/broken, and we need Jesus to die on a cross, shed blood, and rise from the dead to save us, then the old has passed away, and we are a new creation. And when we come to realize that hopelessness, anger, bitterness, sadness and unforgiveness do not have to rule our hearts, but in the Lord we can experience, peace, joy and forgiveness, then the old has passed away, and we are a new creation.
Being a “New Creation in Christ” doesn’t mean we’re prefect, far from it. But it means each day we can live with a newness in our eyes, ready to encounter the living God, ready to share His love with our neighbors.
My dad was a local school superintendent. And each August he would spend time orientating the new employees to the school division. As part of the orientation, my father would always bring these folks to our house for lunch. After the meal, they would all pile back onto the yellow school bus, as they would then tour all the district school buildings. Because he knew that I would enjoy it, my dad always allowed me to ride along in the bus and be a part of the tour. For me, it was a grand adventure. I had the opportunity to meet these new people, and to see the new things happening in the buildings. True, some of it was the same year to year. But I always seemed to be excited for the experience.
As we embark on 2019, I pray that we will be excited for the grand adventure. I pray that we will not get caught in the same old ruts of the year before, but by believing in Jesus, we would begin to live as Christ’s new creation. People wanting to be positive, optimistic, non-reactive, service orientated, wanting to share the love of God in our homes and communities.