(Posted December 15, 2014)
Scripture tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB), and “That which has been is that which will be. And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NASB).
Being “in Christ” is far more than a transition from death to life, from temporal insecurity to eternal security. Being “in Christ” also represents a daily condition, a state of mind and heart, an abiding in God’s presence through a daily walk with Jesus. Hence, being “in Christ” includes being “a new creature,” not just for eternity, but for today and the tomorrows to come. Peering into 2015, we can be confident that “in Christ” we will experience new, dynamic, enriching encounters with the living God and the world around us. As mentioned in a previous blog, the beginning of a New Year is an opportune time to search the scriptures regarding “new.” From Resilient Warriors (Dees, 2011):
In Jesus Calling for January 1, Sarah Young states “A close walk with God is a life of continual newness….” May you and I truly experience this continual newness as we are “new creatures in Christ” for the year to come.
Contrasted with this reality of newness, we also have the statement from Ecclesiastes that “there is nothing new under the sun.” This reveals the reality of life in a fallen world: we have the same old sin nature, we see the same spiritual depravity around us, the poor and needy will always be with us. These contrasting statements present a challenge for Christians who are both citizens of the world and citizens of heaven. One might reflectively ask, “Which reality is preeminent… living the status quo in a fallen world, or being a new creature in Christ?” While the pat answer is obviously new life in Christ, the very real tension is living “in the world,” but not being “of the world.”
I think the Psalmist in Psalm 2 was perhaps wrestling with the same questions in writing, “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?” (v. 1). This certainly describes our world as we enter A.D. 2015. A quick perusal of current events includes many instances of “uproar” and “vanity.” For instance, consider ISIS, challenges with NATO and an emergent Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine, War on Drugs, Global War on Terror, and many other international challenges. On the individual front, consider rampant narcissism, selfishness, blatant immorality, special interest cultures demanding their own rights to the exclusion of others, an entitlement mentality devoid of work ethic, and many other forms of vanity. The list is endless -- we have many reasons to wring our hands and fret about the future.
Yet, Psalm 2:4 provides the right perspective: “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.” In verse 2:6, the Psalmist acknowledges God’s response to such turmoil: “But as for me, I have installed my King upon Zion, my holy mountain.” This king is Jesus, the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.
In addition to recognizing the preeminence of Jesus in our fallen world, Psalm 2:11-12 gives us very specific first steps to deal (physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally) with the challenges of the world about us:
“Worship the Lord…,”
Isn’t it awesome that God understands our very personal and specific circumstances? He knows the tensions we face in a fallen world, and He provides a clear priority and perspective for each of us. Whether it is the actions of nations or the number of hairs on our head, God truly is “a shield about me” (Psalm 3:3) as we recognize and live out our “newness in Christ” each day. We must remember these truths as we “fight the good fight” in our personal lives and in the national culture wars which will continue to rage about us in the year 2015. God truly will “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 4:19).
“Behold, new things have come in Christ.” May each of us have a Blessed New Year in Jesus, the author of newness. To Him be all the glory, and honor, and praise!
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Respectfully in Christ,
LU Institute for Military Resilience
PS: The next Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) Webinar entitled “National Spiritual Renewal in the New Year” will be presented by MG Bob Dees from the Liberty University Institute for Military Resilience at 8 PM on Thursday, January 8, 2015. From the webinar promotional content:
See you there!