Everyone gets excited around the new year. Some of it is the continued high from the holidays that precede it, but I think most of it is because we like to put the word “new” in front of things. It’s an easy way to trick ourselves into thinking something is better or will be better. Of course, if you stick around long enough new things almost always become old things. A year ago, 2013 was new. It was exciting. There was hope and optimism, people were excited. Two days ago, most of us were ready to put that same year, the “old year”, to rest.
Maybe it didn’t turn out the way we expected. We made resolutions we didn’t keep. We kept habits that we didn’t like. We were hurt by someone we love. We hurt someone we love. We lost someone we love. We didn’t do enough writing. We didn’t spend enough time with our families. We spent too much time doing something we didn’t love. We invested time, money, or energy into the wrong thing and saw little return. We asked the wrong questions. We asked the right questions of the wrong people. Someone we trusted let us down. We let others down.
There are any number of reasons that something “new” becomes old and broken. Reasons we would want to toss it out and replace it. After 365 days, a lot of those reasons might crop up, and we want a fresh start.
2 Corinthians 5:17 reads:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (NASB)
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, and I’ll tell you why. If you look this passage up in any translation of the Bible, you will see one of two translations for “he is a new creature”. It will either suggest that the individual who is in Christ is made new, or that a new creation happens. In either case, we are talking about something drastic. What was old passes away. It doesn’t matter anymore. All that is left is newness. Your old self, the one that is guilty of hurting, the one who felt hurt, is gone. I lean towards the second translation though. The bit that says, “there is a new creation”. Christ doesn’t just make you new. He makes all things new. From your internal spiritual being to the relationship you have with the world around you.
“That’s great,” you say, “but I already knew that.” Well, here’s the best part (and the part where I get a little “I read greeky”). The tense that Paul uses here is known as the perfect tense. It means that something that happened in the past continues to have an effect into the present, and will have an effect continuing into the future. What does this mean? Well, it means that we probably don’t fully understand this scripture based on the words above. Lets put these words into the perfect tense:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, creation has been made new, is being made new, and will continue to be made new. The old has passed away, is passing away, and will continue to pass away while the new has, is, and will take it’s place!
Or, maybe more concisely, but certainly more paraphrased: When someone is in Christ, re-creation begins and never ends.
Christians can become a little caught up in the resolution game. Promising ourselves that, because it’s a new year, we’re going to do things differently now. And I don’t want to suggest that you shouldn’t do things differently today than you did yesterday. But don’t do it because you need to write 2014 on your documents now. Do it because Christ is working in you. In whatever ways yesterday let you down, today can be different. Whatever you did five minutes ago that you’re ashamed of, Christ can make you new. Now. You don’t need to wait till 2015 to make up for the mistakes of today.