We all mess up. We say things we later wish we could take back. We do things we wish we could undo. We miss opportunities. This happens in all spheres of our lives. Sometimes we make mistakes at work, sometimes we hurt the people we love, sometimes we disappoint God. And because we all mess up, we like to start over—to turn our backs on the past, to look forward, to hope that this time round, things are going to be better.There’s something exciting about starting over—new challenges, new experiences, new opportunities. I love starting a new year. I have plans, things I’d like to accomplish, big challenges ahead of me. Looking back over the past year, I realise there are some things I’d like to do differently. Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts. Yes, we all like to start over. Why? Because the future holds the hope for something better.
But things don’t always stay this way. After too many disappointments we often give up, we lose hope. A person can only start over so many times before you begin to wonder, “What’s the point? What makes you think you’re not going to mess it up again?” Of course, people vary. The number of disappointments necessary before someone gives up hope differs from person to person.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17; NIV)A “new creation”—the Greek word used here is ktisis. If anyone has dedicated himself or herself to Christ, that person is a new ktisis. The two major meanings of ktisis are: (1) the creative act, the act of creation or (2) the thing created, the creation itself.2 Cor 5:17 thus means that when someone has decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus, Jesus begins a new “act of creation” in their lives. They aren’t merely reformed or rehabilitated. No, they are recreated. They become a brand new person from within. And they begin a brand new life. Paul explains how this can take place, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor 5:14-15; NIV) This is what baptism symbolises. Your old life dies and you are buried under the water, just as Jesus was buried in the tomb. Then you stand up out of the water, just as Jesus stood up from the grave. You stand up as a new person, a new ktisis. That’s why Paul can confidently say “the old has gone, the new has come!”
It’s not easy to confront our failures, our disappointments, our pain. In fact, it’s possible for us to get used to living in spiritual poverty, to live without hope. To hope again is scary. If we begin to hope again, we can be disappointed again. If we try to start over once more, we might just fail once more. But however scary it might be to think of making a new start, that is exactly what the Bible is promising: “[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
Here is something amazing. When we make that decision to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Christ, and He begins that work of recreation in us, we become His ambassadors! We aren’t treated like the naughty boy who apologises and is then allowed back in the classroom, but in a lonely corner separated from his friends. No, instead we are entrusted with the message of reconciliation. Suddenly our lives have a larger purpose than just earning enough to live comfortably.
Perhaps things are still going well. Sure, you’ve made some mistakes, you’ve messed up a little, but you’re still living with the hope that you will be able to start over, that today presents you with the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf—to drop some bad habits and pick up some good ones. Perhaps things are falling apart. You’ve tried the starting over bit—over and over and over—and you’ve come to realise it’s just a futile attempt at making yourself feel better for a while. You’ve lost all hope in any real new beginning. Perhaps you’ve met the Messiah. You’ve gone through the ups and downs. You’ve tried it all you know what it’s like to promise yourself a new start, you know what it’s like to reach that point of hopelessness, of just giving up. But now you’ve met the Messiah. And suddenly you know what it is to really start over to be a new creation. Perhaps you’ve become His ambassador. You’ve been liberated, set free from you trust in yourself, your loss of hope. And now you can’t help but carry a message—the message that it’s okay. That God has made things right between you and Him, everyone and Him! It doesn’t really matter where you are today, because today is a new day. Paul writes further: 6 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, ‘‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:1, 2; NIV)Friends, Today is a new day. Jesus is offering you what He offered the woman at the well—a new creation, living water. Go on. Drink it.