Happy New Year!
As I was watching the Times Square coverage of New Year’s Eve last night, I got very excited about what bringing in a New Year means. We watched clips of the New Year being celebrated all over the world, from Australia to New York, fireworks everywhere, and every ball dropping had the number 2015 on it. It reminded me that Jesus is our KING. That every time we say the year, it is based on his life. All of history and our dates revolve around someone born in a manger who died on a cross, a servant king. AMAZING! Think of all the powerful people in history, but this one man is the reason the entire world had the numbers 2015 in their celebrations last night. The most important people in history have dates on their tombstones that revolve around Jesus. He existed before time, he offers us eternal life beyond time and he is the central measuring point of our time. This is someone who was born in a stable, whose birth was announced to lowly outcasts in a field, who was raised in a carpenter’s home and spent his days with fishermen. It defies all logic in the most brilliant way!
To see so many people celebrating all over the world with hope and anticipation of what a clean slate brings makes me appreciate how much we have in common despite our cultural differences. Maybe New Year’s is an excuse for people to have a party. But on a deeper level, people get FIRED UP for a new year because we are MADE FOR JESUS. We are designed to desire a FRESH START, A CLEAN SLATE, and a NEW CHANCE. We (all races, all nations) love the hope a new year brings because ultimately we desire what Jesus offers; NEW LIFE and transformation. Taylor Swift captivates the world with the notion of “shaking it off,” and Elsa with “letting it go,” but what Jesus offers is far more liberating and exciting. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17).
I went on a treasure hunt and looked up the meaning of the word “new.” The Greek word “new” that Paul uses is “kainos.” It appears over 40 times in the New Testament and means “new in form and substance, recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn, of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon and unheard of.”
The word tells us that we are people who Christ is making new, that he has given us a new heart and put a new spirit in us, that we have been born into a new family, that we are members of a new covenant and that one day we will have new bodies, a new name and will live in a new city. “Behold I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). How is this possible? Through the love of Christ and his sacrifice on the cross.
As I look at this New Year, I usually have a long to do list of what to accomplish and what to give up. Those goals are helpful. This year, my desire is simple…more of Jesus, receiving the abundant life he has made available and following his lead. I wish I had a road map, but he simply offers a relationship. And, I believe him when he says he came to give life and give it to the full. I know the abundant life he has given me has been the most exciting adventure I could imagine. I used to look at following Christ and see a mountain of things I needed to give up. But now I see Jesus as someone who reaches out a hand and shows us what we have to GAIN. He took our sins on the cross and, in exchange, gave us his righteousness. He gives us a “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Wow! That’s amazing grace!
What happens when we follow him?
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
So, Happy New Year! Each date on our calendar revolves around the life of Jesus, and I pray we live each day to revolve around him too. I pray the newness Christ offers infuses your 2015. And that his light sparks a new fire in you. Praise Jesus for a new year, new life and life to the full!