“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
An old year has passed away. A new year, 2013, is upon us. This is the time of resolutions- with many that go unkept; a time to consider what the future might bring. We may decide to lose weight or to pick up a new hobby. New Year's Day is often considered a time of change.
Many of us- especially those who tend toward rebellious attitudes (such as me)- reject the idea of making resolutions simply because we change calendars. In fact, the only resolution I have ever made and kept was the one I made in 1997. In 1997 I resolved to never make another New Year's resolution. Ah, success! (I do not suggest this is the way to go, serious resolutions are often beneficial- but take them seriously!)
However, the emphasis on change at this time of the year (years?), leads me to think about a time of true change. It is the time a person surrenders his or her will to Christ and inherits salvation.
This change is more extreme than a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly (hat tip: Greg Gunn, Pastor, Providence Church, Spring Hill, FL). A wonderful example of this change is seen in dramatic fashion in Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament. He said,
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1.12-15 ESV)Christians all have one thing in common: we are not who we once were. In 1 Corinthians 6.9-11 Paul writes,
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)Sometimes we may wonder why one Christian may show a dramatic change while another progresses more slowly. Our dedication can be one major factor- are we studying God's Word faithfully? Are we seeking Him in prayer? Surely, through God's Word and prayer we learn about Him and get to know His character. We can be the sheep that know the voice of our Good Shepherd. As we devote ourselves to Him, we grow. We change. We are not who we were. Though we might have been enslaved to sin (see Romans 6), we are now free and made into a new creation.
More important than an old year passing away with a new one rising up is the passing of who we were as we take on the image of Christ in our lives.
Pete Garbacki is a minister with Time for Truth Ministries and Mission.Brasil. Follow him on Twitter @mission_brasil or FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/pete.garbacki.