"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Friday, January 04, 2013

Christ's resolution to make us new

Happy New Year!   I love this time of year—it’s a perfect time to do some soul searching and reflection—a time to look back and an exciting time to look forward.  New Years feels like a fresh start—it’s like the spring cleaning of my life; I get to hit the reset button.

Because of this I think New  Years is a great time to celebrate the new life we are given when we put our faith in Christ.

Many people make New Years’ resolutions, but our greatest joy comes in the truth that through the cross, Jesus resolved to make us new!

What does it look like to be made new by Christ, and what does that mean in how we live our daily lives?  2 Corinthians 5, starting with verse 14, says this,

“14…Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”

Statistically, only 8% of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them.  I think part of that is because we are sorely incapable of transforming ourselves.  We need the author of our book to make the edits in our life.  God is the one who re-writes the story.  He’s the one who can transform lives.

If we are Christians, we are made completely new!  Our old self is dead, we don’t have to dwell on the brokenness and mess of our old lives, because in God’s eyes—we are spotless!

  Why is it that for a new year, we make resolutions?  I think we long for meaning, and we want to be more then we have been.  When Christ makes us new, he gives us that opportunity.  Christ gives us life direction. 

Rather than continue trying to live to please ourselves—to find that missing piece that will bring the satisfaction we crave—we are invited to live for Christ, because it is relationship with him that we crave…even when we don’t realize it.  2 Corinthians 5 goes on to say,

“ 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Paul, the author of this passage, used to hate Jesus before he became a Christian.  He wanted to see all Christians dead or imprisoned.  Paul had a human point of view of who Jesus was, and who others were.  He hadn’t been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to see that Jesus is the son of God, and he didn’t look on other people with the love of Christ that says every person is valuable enough to die for.  Then Christ gave him a new life…and a new perspective.  Christ gives us new eyes.

                I had a classmate who was a drama geek like me.  He knew how to sweet talk the director…so he always got the best parts (it couldn’t have possibly been because he was a better actor than me).  He was selfish and self-centered—nearly as much as I was—and because I am a Christian and don’t use words like hate…I strongly disliked this guy.  Years later, when I’d hear his name, my blood would boil a little bit.  I realized this was not a good thing.  I wrote him and apologized for the way I acted towards him in High school.  It was time to make things right—time to see this person through the eyes of Christ, and not my mere human, hate-filled point of view.   

                2 Corinthians goes on to say,

“ 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” 

When God calls us to be his, he also gives us a purpose—drawing others to the hope we have found.  Our resolutions at New Years strive for—long for— purpose.  We make goals and commitments so that we can accomplish something…and then we feel lousy when the next week we’ve already failed. 

Maybe the reason I fail at my resolutions is because I am pushing after my own flimsy goals, rather than joining Christ in living out the purpose he has placed on me.

Christ gives us a task.  Love God, love people.  Reconcile others to him.

19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Christ has made us new to live for him—this year will you choose to live out the task he’s given, resolving to look on others with Christ’s eyes, and reconcile people to him?

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