January 1, 2024
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“New year, new you” This phrase is frequently expressed at the start of the year as people determine their goals for the coming months. Perhaps it is better health, working towards a promotion, saving for a new car, or being intentional about relationships. Whatever the goal, these resolutions or interpretations of “new year, new you” often focus on what we can do to change ourselves or our circumstances.
While personal growth is great, we cannot forget that true transformation, especially in our faith journey, comes from God working in our lives. We cannot accomplish transformation on our own. We can only become new through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible describes life transformation with the language of new birth. In John 3 Jesus brings up the topic with a curious man. Nicodemus is a religious leader, who has heard about Jesus. He has witnessed lives changed as a result of Jesus’ miracles, but he has questions. The other Pharisees are threatened by Jesus’ popularity, but Nicodemus can’t shake the feeling that there is something important about Jesus. So at night he approaches him.
In John 3:2 Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus must be from God because of all the signs he has performed. In return Jesus says “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”. Immediately Nicodemus is confused. It is physically impossible, so what could Jesus possibly mean? Jesus explains that new birth does not mean physical birth but rather birth by the Spirit. This answer rocks Nicodemus’ world. As descendants of Abraham, Nicodemus and the Jews believed that their place in the kingdom of God was guaranteed based on their ancestry. Yet, Jesus says that isn’t true.
It isn’t a person’s first physical birth that matters but being born again spiritually. According to one commentary, to be born again is to have new life. Not just religious reform or new habits but stepping into a completely new way of living. It is the life transformation Christians experience when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
New birth in Christ is the epitome of becoming the “new you”. But we can’t do it on our own. It is only through what Christ did on the cross for us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 declares that “if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come”. This doesn’t happen because we follow a specific set of steps. Rather “This is from God”. Our transformation comes from Christ bringing us to the Father and changing our lives in the process.
So as you contemplate possible resolutions, consider Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus. As a Christian, God has already invited you to become new. Have you accepted that invitation? How has your relationship with God transformed your life? Instead of considering what steps you can take to become the “new you”, pause and ask God who he wants to transform you to be.
Heavenly Father, We thank you for your faithfulness in bringing us through another year. As we step into 2024 we pray for your wisdom and guidance. May we be less focused on who we want to become and what we want to accomplish, and more centered on who you are creating us to be. Open our hearts to allow the Holy Spirit to move us into the new life you offer us through Christ. It is in his name, that we pray. Amen.
Spiritual Care Coordinator
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