January is upon us once again. The first month of the new year. A time of promise, of new beginnings, of resolutions. There is something special about newness. As a parent, I get to see newness in the face of my child when he discovers something for the first time. I see it in his eyes as he sees the Christmas lights come on for the first time each year. I see it in his face and excitement when he drags me outside to look at a sunset.
For a young child everything is new. Everything is fresh. Everything is urgent and immediate. But as we grow, we become desensitized to the awesome world around us. We get lost in the humdrum of life, and the day-to-day robs us of our fervor. Hurtful experiences scar us and we learn to shy away from anything dangerous, uncontrolled or new and instead we seek comfort, status quo and safety.
But, perhaps children understand something we have forgotten. Perhaps they see something we have become blind to.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of then and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me…’” (Matt. 18:1-5 ESV).
Surely our Lord referred here to childlike faith, trusting in our Heavenly Father. Surely He was referring to having a servant’s heart and not striving to elevate ourselves above others. But perhaps Jesus also was referring to newness of life—the simple wonder and awe and appreciation an unspoiled and unprivileged child has in all things. What a treasured and rare thing this is!
But in Christ, we can all know this newness every day, regardless of our age, regardless of the length of time we have been a Christian. I am reminded of this every Christmas season as I watch Ebenezer Scrooge wake up a new man! I watch as his transformation gives him new eyes to see, a new heart to feel, and a new mind for all things. This is what our God wants in his children! New life! New life in all that we are! Everlasting life is not simply life without ending. It is new life. It is life lived in the presence of Jesus! Life lived in an continual state of renewal and wonder.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17 ESV).
In Christ we are made new!
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal 2:20-21 ESV).
New life! Christ alive in us!
In Ephesians 4, we see Paul comparing and contrasting the old life and the new.
“…and were taught in him…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and 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” (Eph. 4:21-24 ESV).
So this new year, perhaps our most needful change is to discover His newness again. The newness we knew when we first came to Christ! The newness we know whenever we draw near to Him! The newness we know when we allow Him to give us His thoughts regarding people or opinions. The newness we experience when we allow Him to lead us places we wouldn’t go without him. The newness we know when we love others through His heart and not our own. The newness that transforms us as we dive into His word and see our choices, our attitudes, our opinions, our prejudices, our habits, our possessions and ourselves…as He sees them.
May we, as His children, truly become like little children again in wonder…in awe…in thankfulness…in joy…in newness.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction. Out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3 ESV).
May the Blessings of our God be upon you all and may you rejoice in the newness of eternal life in Christ!
Pastor Brian TorresJanuary 7, 2018