He had the privilege of watching new creation come, realizing that it was only possible through God. These were the experiences of my paternal grandfather Joe Hales, who spent his life farming. He planted corn, soybeans and wheat on approximately 120 acres of black sand. And as a kid growing up, I distinctly remember him telling me stories about the crops. Grandpa told me about the times when the hail and wind storms would break off the leaves of the young seedlings, but they always seemed to grow back. He shared with me about the droughts where the land would become parched. But somehow, enough precipitation would suddenly appear to water the fledgling plants. My Grandfather Hales made it clear that he was just the steward, the manager of the land, but it was God who made things happen. Grandpa was the guy who just plowed the ground, planted the seed, and harvested the bounty. But it was the Lord who newly created year, after year, after year.
And through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we are given the opportunity to become his “new creation” as we begin a new year. In II Corinthians 5:17 it is written, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” So, what does it mean to be a “new creation” in Christ? It means realizing that nothing can take us away from God’s love. It means we’re saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus. It means even though we sin, we realize that through repentance, we are totally and absolutely forgiven through the shed blood of Christ. It means that we’re going to “let go” of the past, and let God. But this will probably be the hardest thing for us to do.
Why? Because we hate to “let go.” Sometimes it’s easier to hang on to old habits and unhealthy behaviors rather than becoming “new creations.” We get so accustomed to specific ways of living that we fight to hold onto the “old creation.” I’m the kind of guy who hates to get rid of his clothes. I will keep wearing the same tee shirts even though they are ridden with holes and the material is pulling away from the collars. These shirts are in such bad shape but I refuse to part with them. But my wife doesn’t have the same problem. She has systematically replaced the old tees with new ones. And this is what Jesus has done for us.
Through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, Christ has literally broken the old, and brought in the new. In Mark 2:22 it says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins-and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.“ Jesus is the new wine, and we can be those new wineskins, filled with Christ himself through the Holy Spirit. And as we have Jesus himself in us, we can begin the year living as his new creations, filled with faith, hope and love.
In John 10:10 it is written, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” In 2018, we don’t have to allow the darkness to keep us captive and conflicted. We don’t have to allow the darkness to keep us negative and neglectful. We don’t have to allow the darkness to keep us selfish and sullen. As new creations of Christ Jesus we are being provided the ultimate gift to live not just for ourselves, but to serve and encourage others.
The task is set before us. The choice is ours. Do we want to continue living in the past, or to embrace the future? May we follow the words in Ephesians 2:22-24, “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.”