I like the word “new.” I bet you do too.
It is an exciting word, especially when it is attached to things like cars, a house, or gadgets. Let’s face it. We like “new” things, and we want “new” things. We just have to have the latest and greatest. This desire for “new” has reached a fevered pitch.
Seth Godin, a marketer, author and blogger, described the craze for new like this, “…there's an increasing desire, almost a panic, for something new. Yesterday was a million years ago, and tomorrow is already here. The rush for new continues to increase, and it is now surpassing our ability to satisfy it.”
This is the way it is for things. When it comes to the weightier matters of life, however, “new” is a scary word. It challenges the comfort of the status quo, or the “way we’ve always done things.” It’s unknown, unfamiliar.
That first day of just about anything is filled with anxious moments. It might be the first day of a new job or the first day of college, but whatever it is, you are entering unknown territory and you’re just not sure what to expect. That is a scary place to be.
It is hard for us to change, to let go of all that is familiar and comfortable. We resist with all our strength. This is just part of our human nature.
The Christmas story is about new. Unfortunately, our culture has made it about new things. For the vast majority of people, that’s why Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.” I know as a kid, I would wake up about 5:00 Christmas morning because I couldn’t wait to open all the presents under the tree. I loved all the new stuff.
It wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I really learned that the birth of Jesus wasn’t about getting “new” things. I knew the story. I sang in our church’s Christmas program every year. My dad read us Luke’s version of the Christmas story each Christmas morning. I knew Jesus was the center piece of our holiday celebrations. I just didn’t know why. I didn’t know that Jesus became flesh to give me life.
When I reached my senior year in college, something had to give. I was headed in the wrong direction. I wanted to change course, but I couldn’t. I needed to be made new, to be changed from the inside out. That’s the promise of the Gospel, but it is also why the Gospel can be a frightening proposition. To experience new life in Christ, I had to let go of my old life. It wasn’t worth hanging onto, but it was all I knew.
It was the love of God that started loosening my grip until eventually I let go. I didn’t know what was up ahead, what this new life in Christ would look like or feel like. I was walking into unfamiliar territory, but God’s love took away the fear. In that first step of faith, I was made new.
What I’ve learned is that there was nothing to fear at all. The “new” that Christ has for us is better than anything we could ever dream or imagine. Here are just a few verses that tell us about all that we have new in Jesus.
Hebrews 9:15 (NIV)
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Romans 6:4 (NIV)
We were 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.
As you can see, through new birth we become new creatures in Christ. We have new life, which is lived in a new covenant with a brand-new identity, child of God. As believers, we put on the new self, which is characterized by new attitudes and expressed through new commands.
I hope you see why "new" is such a wonderful word, especially as it relates to people hearing or understanding the gospel message for the first time.
For more information on this subject, a suggested resource is our study guide The New Covenant Journey (BNCJ).
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