Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20, The Message)
I’ve been trying to get out and walk a little during the week. We have a creek behind our house with a walking trail. The fact that it’s called a creek is kind of a stretch. It’s really a retention ditch, that’s pretty deep and kind of wide. It ranges from a trickle in dry weather to a raging, earth eroding, rushing river after big storms. When Harvey came through last August, the earth eroding feature of this creek became real and dangerous. The water raged through and took chunks of earth with it, destroying concrete walkways and threatening the integrity of the bridges. People came from the adjoining neighborhoods to stare in awe at the damage. They stood on those shaky bridges and watched the water rage just inches from their feet. Today, almost a year after Harvey, we in this neighborhood are pretty much back to normal. The concrete that Harvey took has been replaced with new, very white, slabs. The walkway now looks a little checkered, with the older walkway next to the new walkway. The colors in the concrete vary because one has been there through more wear and tear. It’s like this when we add something new to our lives too, isn’t it? The new looks the same but is wedged in with the old. We fashion it to fit right in with our old self, but it still looks out of place for a while. As believers, we are told we are new creations-the old has passed away and the new has come. I can’t help but feeling that we’re still in the old in a lot of ways. We are still human. We are still fallible. We are still fallen creatures, groaning with the desire and the hope of heaven.
I think this journey of faith can be fluid. We go through times of refining and struggle and come out better for it. But we can also get stuck. We can know we’re stuck if we haven’t seen God move as easily as in the past. We can get stuck by not serving in the church. Dare I even say it, we can get stuck by only reading social media posts on the latest news and falling into the pit of replies. So if we are indeed a new creation, with God pulling out the pieces of us that are old and replacing them with new, fruit-building, faith-stretching things, it stands to reason that we would be able to point to the new in us and identify them as coming from the Holy Spirit. My question is this: Can you point to the new? Can you name it and praise God for it? Just like the concrete on our little trail, the new feels weird. It looks weird. But it’s new and it’s new for a reason. The old has passed away-sometimes violently-and the new has come. Has God turned your doubt into faith? Praise Him for the new! Has He moved your fear into security? Praise Him! Has He changed your anger to peace? Thank Him! Has He instilled life where there was once death and emptiness? Call it out and praise Him for the new!
If this isn’t an easy process for you, that’s okay! It’s challenging regardless of whether we’ve believed since we were 7 or if we came to faith 7 minutes ago. The point is that we are constantly taking our attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs and throwing them up against what scripture says about them. Transformation comes when we are willing to take a hard look at why we believe what we do. I remember doing this most when I was a new believer. I was in high school, and all of a sudden, my whole outlook and perspective changed because of what Jesus had done in me. I was constantly thinking about what was different between my perspective and the Bible. That struggle to learn what the Bible said about me now as a believer yielded growth and propelled me into serving.
I’m getting older. I know, we all are. But what I’m noticing is that we seem to let age harden our hearts. Maybe it’s just me? I’ve been praying though. Praying for a moldable heart. The Bible tells a story about a potter with clay:
So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be. Then this message from the Lord came to me: “Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” This message is from the Lord. (Jeremiah 18:3-6, ERV)
Here’s my prayer for us; that we would be able to point to the new that God has transformed in us through His Holy Spirit, that we would recognize the old that is still transforming, and that our hearts would be soft enough to recognize the difference.