“From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old has gone, the new has come!” ~2 Corinthians 5:16-17
We’ve absolutely got to change the way we look at things. It’s so much bigger than we think.
Christianity is not the statement that God exists and sent Jesus to the earth to save us and, because of that, now makes demands of us. The New Testament is not a systematic approach to ethics or a rational outline of morality. Scripture is not a book of rules that inform us of how we should act in this circumstance or in that situation. Jesus did not come to this earth to bring a new ethic or a new set of morals. Jesus came here to bring us a brand new reality!
If anyone is in Christ… new creation! (The two words “he is” don’t appear in the original Greek text.) In Christ, it’s just “new creation!” Period. Or exclamation point, I suppose. New creation! Everything’s new. All of creation is brand new. Everything looks new. Everything is reinterpreted. Jesus is not an add-on to the story; he IS the story! Jesus is not the missing piece to the puzzle; he is the puzzle! And the box it came in! And the card table and the chairs and the fire in the fireplace! That’s the reality. God through Christ is redeeming this planet, he’s restoring all of creation, and so he rightfully claims every part of us. Everything you do, everything you say, everything you think. From the moment you wake up until the minute you go to sleep, God claims all of it in Jesus. His perfect will is that every bit of it is holy. So we don’t belong to ourselves. Every second of our time and every square inch of our bodies belong to the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
It’s bigger than we think.
When you put on Christ in baptism, when you accept God’s will for your life to be holy and sanctified and exactly like him, everything’s new. It’s panoramic. It’s all inclusive. It’s rich and deep, it gets in to every crack and crevice of your existence. It all belongs to God and he’s claiming it. There’s no room for other gods, there’s no place for selfish behavior, there’s no time to waste in worldly pursuits. There’s no need for anything else.
Christianity is not a verse for this and a passage for that. It’s not. What am I supposed to do in this business situation? What should I say about this family crisis? When I’m confronted with this, how do I act? What are my obligations in this circumstance? Well, let’s go look in the Bible…
I’m sorry, there’s not a verse for everything. You can’t go book, chapter, verse on a whole lot of things. But I don’t want a verse to determine my conduct situation by situation. I want the reality of the new creation. I want the reality of God’s claim on my life in Jesus Christ to be pushed into the room and dominate everything I do and everything I say and everything I think about. It has to. It has to be at the very center of my being and the very reason for my life.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” ~1 Thessalonians 4:3
I want to be completely wrapped up in God’s claim on my life. I want to be totally dependent on Jesus for my salvation. I want to be thoroughly led by the Spirit inside me to sanctification and holiness. It’s bigger than we think. And I want it.
So, our children’s minister here at Central, Mary McNeill, finally had her baby, fifteen days past her due date and and fourteen days past the last date chosen in our office pool. (Congratulations, Connie!) Mary and Todd had decided not to find out beforehand if this fourth child was a boy or a girl, which only added to the considerable interest and anticipation surrounding the whole thing. When we learned that the baby was born yesterday afternoon at just before 4:00, the curiosity became almost unbearable. When 5:30 rolled around and I still didn’t know the gender of this latest little McNeill, I decided to text Mary. After all, I’d been receiving calls and texts all day asking me about the baby. Plus, I’d have to announce the news to our Sneed Hall Bible Class at 7:00. I needed to know. Here’s the whole conversation:
“I’m going to start sending tons of people straight to your hospital room if I don’t get some baby information. STAT!!!”
“Baby born at 3:49, 7lbs. 6oz., 19 inches long. Will tell you the name after my kids get here.”
“Congratulations. Boy or girl? You’re killing me.”
“I can’t tell you until my kids get here and see. They didn’t want us to tell them over the phone, they wanted to find out for themselves.”
“Again, congratulations. I’m not sure what your kids have to do with me. Or why you won’t tell the one person on this earth you know has no facebook, no facetime, no twitter, no skype, no instagram, and no possible other way to communicate with anybody other than a really slow text. Girl, right?”
“Because the man with the least amount of technology also has the biggest mouth.”
“Will I find out before church?”
“Yes, probably in the next 15-25 minutes.”
“Never mind. I’ve lost interest.”
The news we wanted came a few minutes later. Ava Grace (I knew it was a girl!) came into the world, into the McNeill family, and in to the hearts of her Central church family as a perfect little gift from our Father above. She’s beautiful. And she’s a tremendous blessing. Congratulations to Todd and Mary, Kathryn and Ethan and Lauryl. We join you in thanking God for the gift of this precious child. And we can’t wait to see what our faithful Lord does with her and in her to his eternal glory and praise.