There are verses in the Bible that really capture my imagination! Some produce striking images in my mind, and others leave me in wonder at the depth of their meaning. Among the many examples, I've always been fascinated with the final phrase of 2 Corinthians 5:17... "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Imagine with me on this one. Our union with Christ is a mysterious concept, but what the Apostle Paul reveals here is that if we are "in Christ", we are a "new creation." I can't help but wonder if Paul's mind is harkening back to Genesis 1-2 where we find the original creation story in which we're told of God creating the first man and woman amidst the grand backdrop of Him speaking the earth and the universe into existence. What a wonder as Paul imagines glorious light displacing the darkness, stars flung into space in every direction, and the formless void on the surface of the earth suddenly taking shape and growing a lush green carpet of vegetation with creatures of all varieties roaming its hills and plains. To crown it all, a man and a woman are created to bear the image of God in this beautiful new world. The creation story captures the imagination in its everything-from-nothing life-explosion like no other Bible story!
And then, Paul picks up the language of that wonderful story in 2 Corinthians as he seeks to give us a picture of the Christian's union with Christ. "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..." But this is not like some new craft project to put on the shelf with one's previous crafts. The old creation from that beautiful story in Genesis is tainted. Sin has spoiled it. Something has died in us due to sin corrupting our hearts. So when Jesus came 2,000 years ago – just as we know he was there in Genesis 1-2 – He came to replace something old and broken with something fresh from heaven! He came to make new creations, providing a life-explosion of resurrection life to supplant the old creation that was dead in its sins. This doesn't mean our personalities are replaced, but that our sin-stained spirits are made alive! And as wonderful as it must have once been to be created in the image of God and to sometimes walk side by side with God in the garden, it's now possible to be born again into a life of right-standing with God and to walk with Christ continually living in our hearts by God's Spirit every moment of every day!
But it's the final phrase that personalizes this verse for me... "The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" When I read, "Behold, the new has come", I visualize a plush stage curtain slowly opening, bright lights shining on what will soon be revealed, and a packed audience waiting in hushed anticipation to see... you. Yes, you! You're just standing there on that big stage, wearing your usual jeans and favourite t-shirt, looking a little awkward from all the attention. But you've got a slight smile on your face that you just can't hide because Jesus is inside you and wants everyone to see that you are His new creation! You see, as ordinary as we think we are, and as often as we feel we fail Him, we live our Christian lives by the life and power of God, and can be encouraged that "we are His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10) and that He loves us with "the immeasurable riches of His grace" (Ephesians 2:7). We're what He wants to show off to the world with the word, "Behold!" Because Jesus then wants us to show everyone that He is the one who made us new!
© 2016 by Ken Peters
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