This is a very compelling message for the first day of the new year…
This is a very compelling message for the first day of the new year. Because of the death of Jesus, all things have been made new. This is a paradox that can only be understood in faith. A death makes all things new? How could this be?
“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When Jesus died on the cross, the old order died as well. A new way began. The world would never be the same because of Jesus’ death on the cross. As Christians, the old mode of perception governed by the flesh no longer blinds us to the deeper reality of creation and our place in it. It has been replaced by a new mode of perception which is that of the Holy Spirit. Those without faith still see the world only in “fleshy” materialistic terms. Because of this they see Christ as weak, a fiction belonging to “less educated, more primitive times.” But because of the faith we have been given by the Spirit, we know Jesus to be the only real wisdom, the only real power, the only real life that is worthy of human beings. It is this Jesus, who, though he was God, did not cling to divinity, but rather, became one like us and, in doing so, he lifted up our humanity. He showed us in his words and deeds the true nobility of our human nature. And in a singular act of self sacrificing love on the cross, he reconciled us to the Father, forever.
The paradox of Jesus’ death is that in that act of self sacrifice, sin and death were conquered once and for all. His death is the genesis of our new life in the Spirit. As Christians, because we have been given this new way of seeing in the light of the Spirit, we are to live this new way in the world of our daily lives. We are to no longer, “regard [anyone] from a worldly point of view.” (verse 16) We are to regard all others as Christ regards us. This new way of seeing has come to us in the form of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus’ death on the cross. God no longer counts our sins against us. Therefore, what is our response as Christians to be? We are to commit ourselves wholly to the message of reconciliation. We are to become, “ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (verse 20) This is truly something new. And the world is crying for us to take on this duty.
As Christians, we view Jesus’ triumph, not in flesh-and-blood terms, but through the prism of faith. We know that those who want a share in his victory will have to adopt the way that Jesus modeled to us in his life and in his death. And we know that because many still view reality in only flesh-and-blood ways, we will most likely pay the price of hardship and rejection, just as he did. Through faith, and the wisdom that come to us from the Holy Spirit, we are no longer afraid. Because, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (verse 21)
This New Year, let us reflect on ridding ourselves of the old habits of the flesh that have proven themselves to be our weakness. Rather, let us reflect on renewing our faith lives. Let us commit again to the new perceptions in the Spirit and to the way of reconciliation that Jesus’ death initiated so long ago. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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