We, as God’s children, are a strange little breed. I would call us cute if we were infants, but since so many of us are older now I’ll just say we are strange. The reason that I feel this way is because we say things that completely contradict each other. It is as if we say that 2+2=4 and 2+2=17 at the same time. When you challenge this or bring the contradiction to light, we begin to act really strange.
I will never forget the first time I got a letter berating a teaching that I gave. Before the mail that day I thought that God had used me powerfully. I was so excited coming off a teaching where I talked about life as God’s children and how we are to carry ourselves. In my mind it was clear and passionate. I was certain that God had completely transformed the entire world because of my words. At least one person disagreed with me. The feeling was that I was thinking too highly of us. There was sin, and grace, and we are not to act like we are victorious over sin through Christ. Only He is. To me this still doesn’t make any sense, although I have run across the opinion many times. Christ death on the cross was victory over sin, and because He made it clear, His victory is on our behalf. Therefore, we have victory over sin because of His grace. I don’t think it cheapens grace to say that we are no longer owned by sin. I think it actually helps us see grace for what it really is, God’s favor on us when we don’t deserve it.
In my life and in the ministry God has given me, I have been amazed by how deep sin goes. Our sinful nature is a nasty old bugger. He has owned us for far too long. He is our past, knows us well, and we have worn him like a broken in pair of blue jeans. Yet if we are to fully embrace Christ’s sacrifice and His grace then we are to throw off this old bugger. Those jeans shouldn’t fit anymore. None of this is new. Paul teaches it all over his letters, and yet we are not comfortable with it.
The place where I have seen us most uncomfortable is with the idea of being new creations. I remember talking to a friend in high school who said that all people are worms and that Christians are just saved worms. I understand the statement, but if it is true I want to hide in a cave and cry. About the same time I began reading C.S. Lewis and was so encouraged by Mere Christianity where Lewis writes about Christians being winged horses learning to fly instead of just doing the steeple chase. This is how I saw it.
Somehow declaring that we are new is seen as arrogant, as arriving, and as not needing Christ. I have never been more aware of my dependence on God than since I have declared that I am new in Him. If He doesn’t agree, it isn’t true. At the same time, I don’t believe that the old bugger that is my sinful nature, as great and distracting as it is, is greater than the Messiah of the world. If He says I’m new, I’m new.
In Scripture people agree, in practice we are still weirded out by this. So for this moment, let’s at least agree that He makes us "Newish"- not fully arrived, but becoming more and more like Him. The question can finally come up: In everything that you do, how do you live "Newish"?