Newness | Finding Renewal in the Gospel
By Nathan Bryant | Pastor, The Zoe Project
We talk of new things a whole lot in our culture. Newness is often understood as better. Though I would venture not everyone shares that value, and there are plenty of things we could point to that actually got worse as it became new, there are many things that this idea is of course pretty accurate. For example, electronics. I don’t know of anyone who craves the big box TVs over our slick new flatscreens, the old car phone versus the new smartphones, or the room sized computers versus the iPad. For most things in our lives today, the newer the item, oftentimes the upgrades and lack of wear and tear, do actually make it better.
What many of us don’t take time to think about is that it was a long, drawn out, very meticulous process for that new and better item to get into our hands.
The Bible speaks about a newness of life that the Gospel ushers in. It speaks of a life made new when Jesus is at the center of it. A whole section of the Bible is organized into this framework, as the New Covenant, or New Testament is seen as better than the Old Testament or Old Covenant. We see the New writings of the apostles and disciples explain how Jesus makes everything better. We see the actions of Christ and His Church take the commands and structures of the Old Testament law and writings and make them better.
Jesus himself says of his own ministry, “Behold I am making all things… New.”
So what does that actually look like?
New things require time, energy, and patience to wade through the process.
But when we do, we notice something about this Jesus.
“Christ showed us an entirely new way of being human.” – Maximus the Confessor
Jesus is not just interested in getting you or me to heaven. He is interested in transforming us into an entirely new way of living… of being… He wants to redefine what our humanity is.
At the very core of what makes us… us. That is what He wants to transform. That is the system upgrade He desires for our hearts, that is the what He longs to reassemble and make better.
I have been currently wrestling with what this means for my life in the here and now. My mind has been stirring and keeping me up through the middle of the night with this question burning in my brain: When do we live? This is when I stumbled upon a blog post by Pastor and author Brian Zahnd who asked the same question and experienced a similar restlessness over the answer and consequences to that answer.
If salvation is primarily a ticket to heaven when we die, wouldn’t the answer to the question, “When do we live?” be, “When we die”?
That doesn’t make much sense to me when I read about Jesus’ ministry. He came to bring life, life more abundantly. He said the Kingdom of Heaven was actively present among them, not some far off event when everyone dies.
I also believe Paul and the other apostles would balk at that idea… and yet, this is the major belief among most church goers. We need to escape the world and attain life in heaven… after we die. This is why escapism beliefs about the end times are so popular. But the Bible doesn’t back these beliefs up.
I think the answer to the question when do we live? can be answered this way:
We live when we discover the new way to be human in Christ.
I’m still left wondering, “How do we actually experience this new way of being human?”
I will be exploring some of my ideas of how we can experience this new way of being human, but first I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts?
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