Out with the old, in with the new

At the end of every year and beginning of a new one, a similar refrain is told – out with the old, in with the new. The difficulties of a closing year give way to the anticipation of bright new beginnings. The idea of newness opens up a world of possibilities. And yet, most of us generally tend to reject change. Fearing uncertainty and feelings of unsettledness, many of us functionally prefer to keep things just as they are – safe and unchanged.

Rather than viewing change negatively, the Bible often uses the idea of newness to describe God’s redemptive work in his people. Spiritual newness in a person’s life is always a sign of God actively working. God promised a new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 to replace the old covenant made to the Israel’s patriarchs. In Ezekiel 11:19, God promised to give a new spirit to those in the new covenant, and in Isaiah 43:18-19 God promised to do a new work in his people. However, the clearest biblical picture of newness pertains to the work of salvation in Christians’ hearts and lives. Paul says we have been given new life through Christ (Romans 6:4), have been made into a new creation in Christ (Galatians 6:15), and are to put on the new self of being like Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). The biblical language of salvation is being changed from a former, sinful life to a new, righteous life.

Lest we fall into what C.S. Lewis termed “chronological snobbery,” where new is always better, we must be mindful to acknowledge that the old always informs the new. By initiating the new covenant, Jesus fulfilled the old covenant (Matthew 5:17). Through the dying of our old self, Christ forms Christians into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The groaning of the original creation longs for Christ’s victorious second-coming and inauguration of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Scripture doesn’t reject the old simply to favor the new. Rather, spiritual newness sees God’s redemptive hand in bringing believers to both new life and new opportunities.

Therefore, Christians ought to view God-given change as an opportunity for new kingdom work. Whether God provides new relationships, career paths, or ministry opportunities, obediently step forward in faith. If God is leading you to a new life opportunity, entrust God has prepared you for the kingdom work he’s called you to (Ephesians 2:10). Rest in knowing that God will remain faithful throughout whatever change may lie ahead. And most importantly, praise the Lord who is daily renewing you more into the image of Christ. The same God who has given you new spiritual life will complete his good work in you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). May we as Christians rest in knowing, regardless of the changes of tomorrow, “I [the Lord] make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).

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