I love the celebration of a new year – the excitement
leading up to it, the fun on New Year’s Eve, watching the crystal ball drop in New York, and the
celebratory smooch! I even like the stupid hats and party horns. Woo hoo! I’m always up for a
But now that we’re into January, the new year already seems
like any other year – with rush hour traffic, running endless errands, mundane joyless activities like cleaning
the toilet, and a diminishing commitment to those once-fervent New Year’s resolutions. I’m even over the thrill of writing “2009” on my checks.
So what’s up with that? Well, good thing you asked, because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it
and have some thoughts I’d like to share with you.
First, (and let’s be honest), a “new year” is actually only
a day on the calendar and not some breathtaking, dramatically different experience to brag about. So, like a birthday, we celebrate the day as an event and then return to our
everyday life. Maybe what we need is not a “new” day, but an
injection of “newness” into our whole lives.
In the pursuit of this concept, I turned to God’s Word,
which is relevant to every area of life except maybe bobby pins.
Haha! (Just kidding – trust me, I’m sure I could make a biblical
connection to bobby pins too if I tried long enough). And I studied
the word “new” in various passages. You’ll have to do this sometime
and be as amazed as I was about the plethora of interesting references to the concept of newness. One particularly enlightening section is in 2 Corinthians 5. Take a look at verses 1-5:
“Now we know
that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not
built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because
when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened,
because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may
be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit
as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians
You see how the first few verses focus on the
disintegrating nature of our human flesh (v. 1, the “earthly tent we live in”) and how we will receive new
bodies in heaven. I for one say, “Yea God” to that. I get pretty tired of this old body from time to time. It doesn’t nearly say “hot babe” like I want it to, and it definitely has
issues doing what I ask it to do on occasion. What’s with
that!? But at least someday, when we get to heaven, we’ll get a new
body. I can’t wait.
The promise of a new physical body in heaven, of course,
includes the fact that we’ll actually get to heaven! And that is
another promise God has given to his Jesus-followers. We don’t have
to wonder whether we’ll “make it there” or are good enough to get in at the pearly gates. Accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins absolutely requires us to
admit that we can’t get there on our own, and we’re not good enough. Thus the need
for a Savior. This is a duh-thing if you think about
it. If we could somehow do it on our own, Jesus wouldn’t have
had to come to die. Galatians 2:21 puts it
succinctly: “If righteousness could be gained through the
law [good works], Christ died for nothing!” So if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, you’re in. You’re going to heaven.
Just learning that is worth the price of reading this devotional, isn’t it?
But the newness scripture speaks of is more than just a
future new body and new home. The newness is also a spiritual
transformation that changes our attitudes and aptitudes from the inside out. We don’t become less than what we were, we become more than what we ever could
have been – now that Christ lives in and through us. We now can
really love like Jesus loves. And, even though we still struggle
with temptations and often succumb to them, we actually now have the power to not sin. Plus, we are given new
abilities called spiritual gifts that allow us to live the Christian life powerfully and bring others to know
Christ personally. Pretty cool, this newness thing,
And get this – that spiritual newness starts the moment we become believers. Verse 17 says:
“If anyone is in Christ, he
is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
tense. Already in motion. We have to wait for the new bodies and our new home in heaven, but we don’t
have to wait for this spiritual newness to begin. There’s no
waiting for the ball to drop at midnight – it begins the second we say yes to Jesus. We immediately begin to enjoy a new, startlingly intimate relationship with
God himself. And instantly, the Spirit starts making us --
literally transforming our hearts and souls -- to be more like Jesus. Now that’s some new stuff worth touting! And tooting, if you still have your New Year’s horns out! Nothing is more exciting and fulfilling than living out this new life God’s
If you are in a relationship with Jesus, a new day has
already dawned. Not a simple date that passes without lasting
impact, but a lifetime of purpose and excitement, and an eternity full of love and contentment. During this “new year” I hope you will take stock of the real newness that is
available to you right now and grab hold of it.
chains that are holding you back. See the newness ready to burst
through and let yourself embrace it, own it, pursue it, and be changed by it. God wishes you not just a Happy New Year, but a miraculous, astonishing Happy
New Life in Him. Let’s bring out the party hats and
P.S. If you
have comments or questions, feel free to contact me anytime! I’m
always happy to hear from you.
Other verses to
check out relative to our newness in Christ:
He told them
this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it
on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
But now, by
dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
In the same way,
after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant
in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with
the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I
will be their God, and they will be my people.