Whose New Life?
By Milly Smart
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
This verse is well-known and often quoted. It was one of my first memory verses and forms the base of several of my mum’s passwords (I should add that the numbers are in a different order, for security reasons). It’s an inspiration to all believers, old and new because the simple message is: no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, the decision to be ‘in Christ’ makes you shiny and brand new. I’ve grown up knowing Jesus, and while I definitely had some ‘difficult’ years, I can’t remember a time in my own life that was ‘pre-Jesus’. But this verse is so much more than a personal pep-talk after you’ve sinned or for one-time use after salvation. Let’s dig deeper.
2 Corinthians 5 has to be one of the most hope-filled chapters of the whole Bible. It opens with the promise that when our ‘earthly tent’ (or body) is taken down, we will have a house in heaven. Tents are temporary, and so is this life; we are not living in our true home yet. We can be comforted by the truth that whatever we face at the start of this new year, it is not permanent and it will not last forever. The NLT version says that ‘we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life’, a new life, with the Holy Spirit as the deposit (v5). When you buy a house, you make a promise to pay the full price at a future date. That is what our new life is; a promise from God that He has bought us, and He will transform us.
This verse says we are a whole new creation, though. God hasn’t just bought an old house that he’s going to renovate a bit and make some gentle improvements to; He’s recreating the whole building! It’s not until heaven that this will gain its full meaning, but until then, we live in borrowed time, and our lives are not our own.
“We must work at the ‘task of reconciling people to Him’.“
When Christ died, our old lives died, which means that this verse is much bigger than our own personal journeys, it’s the journey of humanity itself. From when we were first created and fell, to when we struggled under God’s perfect law, never able to attain the required standard. Then Jesus fulfilled the law and gave us His life. He was the One ‘who never sinned, [and became] the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God’ (v21). We live for Him now, not ourselves. This is the new life that Paul writes of so passionately. It is so much more than a second, third or hundredth chance for us, it’s a brand new Jesus-covered life. We’ve been bought, at the most precious price and our new lives belong to Him.
The Bible says that God wants all to be saved, and therefore, considering that our new lives are His, we must work at the ‘task of reconciling people to Him’ (v18). This is my focus throughout this year. I have a new life and it’s a life to be shared. When I overflow with this gift, this freshness and newness, the forgiveness, love, grace and mercy I have received, I can’t help but pour it into those around me. But I’m not going for my glory, it all belongs to the One who gave me life. I am a new creation because of Him, and I will continually look for ways to share His ‘wonderful message of reconciliation’ (v19). What about you?