March 28, 2018 • Life for Leaders
So 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, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:16-17
When I first accepted Jesus into my heart at the 1963 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, I believed I would go to heaven when I died. Being a Christian was, for me, mainly a matter of “after-life insurance,” if you will.
Years later, I learned that being a Christian also makes a difference in the here-and-now. According to the Bible translation I used as a teenager, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, RSV). Although remnants of my old, sinful self remained, because I was a Christian, I was a new creation.
It was only later, when I studied Greek in graduate school, that I realized how much more was claimed in 2 Corinthians 5:17. The original language of this verse could be translated literally, “If anyone [is] in Christ, creation is new.” The NIV gets the sense of the text by saying, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.” You see, it’s not just that the individual is a new creation, though this is part of the truth. When we receive God’s grace through faith in Christ, we begin to live in the new creation that is yet to come. We begin to experience that which we will know fully in the future: forgiveness, restoration, healing, freedom, justice, and peace. Yes, our experience of the new creation is incomplete in this life. But it is real. And it is wonderful.
So, I continue to believe what I first believed in the Los Angeles Coliseum when I was six years old. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that, through him, I am forgiven and given the gift of eternal life. But I no longer view eternal life as something only in the future. Rather, the life of God’s future has begun to invade the present. Because Christ died for me, and because, through faith, I am in Christ, I can begin to experience the new creation now. And so can you!
Something to Think About:
Do you think of yourself as participating in the new creation? If so, why and when? If not, why not?
When have you caught a glimpse of God’s future in the present?
Are there areas of your life in which God’s new creation needs to be more evident?
Something to Do:
As you pray, ask God to give you eyes to see his new creation in your life. Then, pay attention. Let the Spirit of God help you to see the new creation more clearly.
Gracious God, thank you for the fact that I have become new in Christ, and that I have begun to live in your new creation. Of course, I am not fully renewed, and you’re not done with the world yet, either. But your newness has begun to invade this old creation. Your truth, love, and power are here now. Your Spirit is at work as you are making all things new, including me.
May I live in your new creation now, however incompletely. And may you fill my heart with hope for what is yet to come. To you be the glory, Lord. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Beautiful realization. Though we may still have our own sins to contend with (Philippians 2:12-13), we are born into a new life by God’s grace, not only in our own private lives, but in our community. We are truly called to live the Kingdom life in the here and now.