How the Christ Follower Uniquely Welcomes the New Year
Happy New Year! 2018 is in the books. 2019 is a blank chapter waiting to be written. How did you welcome the new year? Perhaps you welcomed the new year restfully on the couch or sleeping. Perhaps you revelled at a party with a loud countdown, singing Auld Lang Syne and embracing people around you. Perhaps you quietly reflected on yesterdays and tomorrows. Or perhaps you stoically observed the new year as any other ticking of the second hand from 11:59 pm to midnight on any other day. Life simply goes on. Or perhaps you’re focused on new year’s resolutions.
Whichever way you welcomed the new year, Christ followers are called to approach each new year and new day in a unique manner. Christ followers have a unique and precious perspective on “new.” I want to share with you three uniquely Christian “new’s.” An ultimate new, a new self, and new mercies.
An Ultimate New
The moutaintop hope of the Christ follower is the ultimate hope that Christ will make ALL THINGS new. Take in and treasure his promise in Revelation 21:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” ~Revelation 21:3-5
This ultimate hope of new is not abstract. We sometimes refer to this ultimate new as our hope in God’s “new creation.” We will do life together with God on a new and concrete earth. What is more, Jesus will take our very real past–our personal stories filled with tears, pain, and past joys–and miraculously weave them into his supreme story of redemption. W…O…W…
This ultimate hope in Jesus’ ultimate new is uniquely distinct from the world’s new. The world’s new only lasts as long as the fireworks before they fizzle out into the black of the night sky. Jesus’ new is final and eternal! The world’s new is only as near as the actual person next to you. When your friend or loved one is gone, so is your “new.” Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, forever. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people” forever!
A New Self
But Jesus doesn’t make us wait until eternity to experience his new. He gives us what Scripture calls a “new self.” When we place our faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, God himself is pleased to indwell us by his Holy Spirit and grow a new self in us. The apostle Paul explains it well in his letters:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. ~Galatians 5:16-17
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ~Ephesians 4:20-24
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. ~Colossians 3:9-10
In contrast, the world generally seeks to muster up enough will power to create new behaviours on the surface. Sometimes our culture refers to these new behaviours as “new habits.” But our will power on its own is often not strong enough. More to the point, no amount of will power or changed behaviour can save us from our sins.
Instead, the Christ follower grows new habits with a completely different motivation. The Christ follower joyfully grows new habits that arise from a new self that arises from new life in Christ with the indwelling Spirit. The world thinks “from the outside-in.” The Christian thinks “from the indwelling Spirit-out.”
Finally, the Christ follower has a resilience-producing-advantage when it comes to “new” because the Lord has delightfully promised new mercies for us every morning. Here are bankable words to live and die by in 2019:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord knows we will stumble and fall in living out our new self and mortifying our old self. But the resilience-producing-advantage for the Christ follower is that we have a genuinely real reset button. It’s not a psychological trick. It’s not a self-help pep talk while looking in the mirror. It is the greatest reality–Christ’s shed blood that proves God’s steadfast love for his people and affords neverending new mercies every morning. How different this is from the world who strives to deal with their incurring guilt.
Christian, your conscience is cleansed as white as snow! So joyfully live into the new that God has for you well beyond the fireworks, Auld Lang Syne and the failed resolutions. God bless you in 2019.