December 27, 2009

As we close out "the old year" and ready ourselves to usher in the new (2010), I think it is appropriate to present this last "Theological Issue" article for 2009 in the hope that I will bring you a new (fresh) thought and will encourage a new (fresh) perspective on life, as God intended for His creation.

The talk of New Year's Resolutions abound this time of year. Each such resolution is seen as a challenge. However, a New Year's Resolution really means a change!

When I say change I am not referring to what we carry in our pockets to have ready at the toll booth or to drop in the slot of a soda machine. Change is what we do after working under the car, and before we go to church or out to eat in a nice restaurant. Change is what we do to the oil in the car or the light bulb over the kitchen sink. However, while we don’t mind changing a dollar bill, our clothing, the oil or the light bulb, when it has to do with us personally, change seems to be much less desirable - when we begin to talk about change, the only thing we want to change is the subject.

Whether we like it or not, we live in what has become a rapidly changing world. Perhaps we are willing to accept the change of the seasons, and the change of weather patterns, but everything else seems to be changing too:

Why don’t we like change?

Perhaps it’s fear of the unknown, or a dislike with being dislodged from our comfort – certainly, change can be stressful and frustrating.

On the other hand, when we come to the beginning of a new year there’s a lot of emphasis on those things people want to change – bad habits are renounced, and new habits put in their place. Of course much of this has to do with the outer man – we want a body weight change, vow to do more exercise, and hope to stop smoking, etc. - although some may include more spiritual matters in their New Year’s commitment to change – read the Bible from cover to cover, pray every day, increase church attendance, etc.

The mark of a Christian is change. Change comes easy for the Christian, is not threatening and not deadly. In fact, for the Christian is life-altering. He or she is not the same!

For the new year, let's take II Corinthians 5:17 as our theme text and discover three timeless truths that should bring about altered thinking.  By the way, altered thinking comes from a Greek word from which we get "repentance."

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come!

The Christian life means old things have passed away. What is not apparent for the English reader is Paul's use of a type for action verb describing what has "passed" was a definite one-time past event, thing, lifestyle, moment. This means that everything associated with the old life - distinctions, prejudices, misconceptions and enslavements of the former unregenerated way of life - assume the character of pastness.

Second, the Christian life means the new has come. Again, not apparent in the English translation is Paul's use of a verb (to come) in the perfect tense and active voice, meaning that the old things became and continue to be new.  This "newness" is no one that in course of time grows old and outmoded. It is a newness which is fresh which continues to become new. In other words, Christians - God's new creation - are people who have become new in the sense of quality, and stay so.

Finally, when a person becomes a Christian, he or she is launched into a recreation mode which brings about significant change. So, for the one who leaves the old and lets the new ever become apparent, there is a new mind, a new will, a new judgment, new affections, new conversations, new power to do good, new world view, new motives, new principles, new objectives, new purposes and new plans.

So, for the new creation (the Christian) let the New Year ever bring a fresh mind set, a qualitative change. Let it bring a new interest in the Bible, working in the Church, getting involved in the ministry, willing to help our fellow man in life's challenges.  Take upon yourself new desires, a new commitment to truth, new pride, new values and a new love and compassion.

As you prepare to resolve a new way of being remember this very important Biblical truth: it is not we who do the changing, nor is it we who demand change in others. Christ is the change agent. He is the Creator, and He is the re-Creator. So long as we are “in Christ,” the changes will be made, they will go on being made, and they will always be for the good.