Happy New Year! Now that 2018 has officially begun, it seems that everyone is declaring resolutions, goals, and ideas of things to accomplish over the next twelve months. While we love to set ourselves up with intention, what if we chose to gather together and set a different kind of goal this year? This month, Ruth Chou Simons reminds us that Christ is daily transforming us into His likeness, and we are made into a new creation, not just on January 1st, but on January 2nd, 3rd, and even 31st, too. We hope you feel encouraged and inspired to go forth into this new year with the hope of Christ alone and the freedom found in His never-ending forgiveness. And if you set one goal for 2018, may it be to believe in the redeeming work of Christ in your own life.
More than a few times in life, I have longed for a do-over. Sometimes I’ve wished for it after I’ve made life choices that resulted in painful repercussions:
If only I had taken my studies more seriously…
If only I hadn’t chopped off all my hair because of my mood…
If only I had considered wise counsel before making that relationship decision… If only I had done my research before making that purchase…
And then there are times when I’ve simply wanted to press the rewind button on the words that spewed out of my mouth toward people I love. Do-over, please? Some things in life are easy to fix, but most of the time we can’t simply rewind, restart, undo, or begin anew as if nothing had happened.
YOU ARE A NEW CREATION
Maybe that’s why it’s hard for us to believe that in Christ we are a new creation. We don’t always feel that way in reality, do we? We can’t imagine, in the middle of our confessions of everyday mess-ups and foolish decisions, that Jesus chooses to forgive and “remembers [our] sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV), transforming us day by day into His likeness. How this happens is a mystery. It is the work of God that, as we die to our former ways and hide ourselves in Christ, we emerge changed. He declares us a new creation from the moment we cross over from slaves to sin to free in Christ, even when the into-His-likeness happens over time.
We are no longer the sum of our past. We are the formed and forming work of Christ’s faithfulness.
THE HOPE OF TRANSFORMATION
So be patient with yourself. And be patient with your circumstances. What you need today isn’t a quick and easy do-over, despite how you feel. What you need is the hope of transformation. When you’re tempted to relive the past, turn to your former ways, or see yourself as “stuck,” remember anew: Just as a butterfly never returns as a chrysalis, neither do we as believers return to living as those condemned. We are not the same.
Dear friend, are you beating yourself up for mistakes rather than confessing your grateful need for transformation? Are you wallowing in the past rather than trusting Christ for your future? We don’t need to strive by our own means when we’ve been given a spiritual makeover.
And here’s the truth: We are no longer the sum of our past. We are the formed and forming work of Christ’s faithfulness in us. Take flight in that freedom today, because in Christ you are a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17