“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 NIV)
I can remember the wind blowing through my hair (back when I had it) as I raced down the street. Dangerously looking over my should to be sure my whole family was watching. Next, I would show them all how high I could jump now, and then maybe some agility drills. Jumping up toward the basketball hoop that was cemented in our driveway and slightly leaning right, I would swear the net moved because of how close I had been to touching it. You may be wondering what change had happened in me. I hadn’t gone on a huge growth spirt, or been training for basketball tryouts. I hadn’t been injured and unable to walk or run and suddenly I could. No, I was simply a 9 year-old boy with a new pair of shoes on.
Do you remember the feeling? New shoes, new bike, new hair cut? How silly I was to think that simply putting on a new pair of high tops, even if they were Reebok Pumps, would turn me into a dunking machine. And yet, years later, as a dad, I sit and watch and “ooh” and “ahh” at my kids as they show me how fast they can run, high they can jump, and turns they can make with a new pair of shoes on. It’s an amazing feeling. You lace them up, saddle up the bike, or style your hair and feel like a new person. That feeling doesn’t last though. Shoes get old, bikes rust, and hair falls out, trust me.
The problem is that these are external fixes. In many ways, as the saying goes, it is like putting lipstick on a pig. If I haven’t trained to run faster, I won’t run faster. There is a deeper change that must happen. This is why the Gospel is such great news! Through his son Jesus, God changes us from the inside out. The idea here is that we are truly a NEW CREATION. Our old self is gone and a new one has come. That is what Paul is saying in this letter to the Corinthians. The Gospel is like new shoes for the soul but it never gets old. The opposite is actually true. The more you come to know about the Gospel the more you are transformed by it and the “speed” and “heights” increase. The question is how do we get that run faster, jump higher feeling in our soul? And once we have it, what do we do with it.
I’m glad you asked!
In vs 15, Paul tells us that we stop living for ourselves and start living for the “one who for their (our) sake died and was raised.” When we have an understanding of the one who took our place, Paul says that the love of Christ will control us (vs 14). This change is inward and not outward. Paul lets us know that we should not boast on outward things but the things in the heart (vs 12). It is the heart that matters. So as we understand more about what Jesus did for us, we will have no choice but to be controlled and live in a loving way. This is that jump higher run faster feeling that changes our lives.
Once we have it Paul goes on to tell us that we are now new and that we should not allow this change to end with us but that we are now given a “ministry of reconciliation” (vs 18). You see, God sent his Son to reconcile the whole earth to himself. That means all of creation is in a broken relationship because of sin and Jesus mended that break when he died in our place. Therefore, we become ambassadors for Christ, and He makes his appeal through our changed lives. Basically, as others see us running faster and jumping higher in life, they will also want to be reconciled.
Let’s fall more in love with Jesus as we near the day we celebrate his victory over the grave. Did you see that? I think the net just moved!
- Is my life one that attracts people because of my love for God and others?
- Would people say God is changing my heart or am I just “putting lipstick on a pig”?
- Who should I ask to join me this Easter in hopes they are reconciled to God?
Jesus, I want to fall so in love with you that it changes my heart and others notice. Please let me take part in the ministry of reconciliation! I want to see people changed by your love. Forgive me for where I have boasted about outward changes, while knowing my heart wasn’t changed. Help me to have the courage to and the words to say when I ask my friend to join me at church and begin preparing them for it now. Amen.