January 1, 2012
Standing on the brink of a new year is always a fascinating place to be. For some, staying up to greet the New Year is a necessity; for others, a memory! As one person observed, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.” But anticipating the New Year also brings a collision of emotions. On the one hand there is the anticipation of the new, the hope that this next year will bring to reality some of the desires of our hearts or a fresh beginning that puts some old problems and patterns of life behind us. For those for whom 2011 has been a very difficult year there is a longing that things are dramatically different in 2012. So we carefully make our resolutions and determine to make some significant changes. On the other hand, we know at the core of our being that turning the page on a calendar doesn’t really change anything. All that really changes is the date. As one cynic put it, “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and comes out the other.” We wake up to face the same person in the mirror we faced the day before.
At the heart of the gospel, however, there is a conviction that our Lord is at work transforming the old into the new. Salvation itself represents God’s replacing of the old with the new. We go from the old self to the new. In Christ, we are truly new. In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” In Christ we have a new position, a new identity, and a new self. But although we are truly new, we are not yet fully new, for that awaits the return of our Lord Jesus. That means that as Christ-followers we are moving from our old lifestyle to our new way of life in Christ. Progressive and usually incremental change in the direction of Christ-likeness is the pattern of the Christian life. So daily in this new year we are called to make the choice to walk in newness of life in a long obedience in the direction of the Lord’s will.
A wonderful truth of Scripture is that we have moved from the old covenant to the new covenant, established in the finished work of Christ and operating on the principle of God’s incessant and amazing grace. We are not under law, but under Christ, who enables us by his indwelling Spirit to live as he intends. We have also moved from the old shadows to the new reality. So we have been set free from the trappings of religion to walk in a “new and living way,” experiencing a deep and personal way fellowship with the living Lord Jesus Christ.
Our ultimate hope is, of course, that this old world will give way to the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells. The Lord’s promise is, “Behold I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:4). No matter how things unroll in this coming year, the Christian lives with the confidence that the best is yet to come, and it is the Lord who has the future in his hands.
In Christ we are truly new, but not yet fully new. By God’s grace we can trust ourselves to him, praying that this will be a year in which the Lord who renews will be renewing us for his glory.