There is something refreshing about the month of January, specifically the date of Jan. 1. The New Year is like a built-in do-over that we get to enjoy annually. It’s also a fitting analogy for the spiritual life in that one of God’s favorite things to do is make things new.
The book of 2 Corinthians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a group of believers in the thriving metropolis of Corinth. The city of Corinth, however, had gained a reputation for widespread immorality. In fact, if people wanted to speak ill of someone they might say, “You Corinthian!” It’s against this backdrop that Paul sought to encourage believers to live out the gospel message. One verse in particular, perhaps to encourage the Corinthian believers that they no longer needed to live in the corrupt atmosphere of their city, speaks about living a new life.
This poignant verse is noted below. First, give it a careful read. Then, to best experience this short but powerful verse, we’re going to interact with the passage phrase-by-phrase. After the verse (under The So What), you’ll find questions to ponder or micro-exercises to do quickly to help you ingest the truth of this verse.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV).
The So What
Therefore…OK, so this is a word and not a phrase. Believe it or not, the word therefore is one of the most powerful words in Scripture. It’s a clue that the information that’s about to be shared is based on the information that was just shared. To best understand the information about to be shared (and experience all the power it can unleash), we need to understand what came before it. So, take a couple minutes to read the verses (from your Bible or an e-Bible) that come before 2 Corinthians 5:17 (2 Cor. 5:11-16).
If anyone is in Christ…Key word: in. When we say yes to Jesus, we are doing more than acknowledging His existence. We are embracing His message and accepting the sacrifice He made for us. We are not simply bringing Jesus into our world. We are jumping into His. Have you said yes to Jesus? Which best describes your relationship with Jesus: Him in parts of your world or you in His?
The new creation has come…Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that belief in Him is so transforming that it is best described as being born again. Our entire existence gets a new start. Take two minutes (set a timer) to think about nothing but the idea of being a new creation.
The old has gone…We are born with things that are opposite of Jesus, things that are part of our sinful nature. When we say yes to Jesus, these things no longer define us. They are gone. However, sometimes they don’t know they’re gone, and they try to creep back into our lives. Throw a one-minute farewell party for these things: Write down the things that nag you that are part of your sinful nature. Then listen to your favorite break-up song or the New Year’s Eve nostalgic favorite, “Auld Lang Syne” (“Should old acquaintance be forgot…”) and consider these things gone.
The new is here! Let the celebration begin! Have your own New Year’s party! Create something that expresses this idea that you are a new creation: Draw it, write it, compose it, get crafty with it, build it. Then send it, snap it, post it, tweet it.
Putting into Practice
Use the first month of the year to build momentum on the truth that you are a new creation. Put whatever you created in the previous exercise (in celebration that the new is here!) in a prominent place of your daily routine so you constantly are reminded that you are a new creation.