If you're a hopeful, essentially positive person, the prospects of the New Year are, at the least, promising. Reality bites, however, the moment we remember the repetitive cyclical movement of life under the sun. Solomon spelled it out in frank, honest talk about life. He wrote, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). It's not a pessimistic worldview, or a negative slant on the meaning of life. No, a fallen world moves in a predictable manner. It's life under the sun.
We humans like the idea of newness. Whether we're turning a new page or chapter or just a leaf, we love the prospects of leaving our bad habits, repetitive routines, and old selves back there in the rear-view mirror. Fresh horizons, clean calendars, a slimmer, trimer profile are the stuff of our entry to the frontiers of the new year. Well, at least for the initial phases of journey. When we discover, like we have for decades, that this new world is hinged by personal change, the brilliant luster is dulled somewhat. Not too far into it, we leave most of our resolve on the side of the road. You see, while we relish the ideal of a fresh start, most of us detest change. If you're a typical church person you can raise the odds on that a notch or two. For the most part, churches are stuck in another decade. Many denominations too.
Enter the portals of biblical faith. Here change is the first word, the basic consideraton. Christ followers are changed people, the new creation, the bride of Christ, believers whose entire take on life has been lifted to harbor the very mind of Christ. Here the vistas of newness are the realties of every single day. These changed people hear his constant declaration, "Behold, I am doing a new thing..." (Isaiah 43:19). They understand with clarity Paul's anthem, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creaton. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come"
(2 Corionthians 5:17). So, this church, the invisible church, if you will, reflects the values and moral standards of Christ. They are his ambassadors.
And, here's where this touches us this week. You see, people changed by Christ can experience the genuine newness of life on another dimension. They have new citizenship papers and are constantly seeking his righteousness and treasuring things in heaven. Their new year isn't about empty promises or aspirations, shedding pounds, padding the nest egg, improved personal management, more family time, or making it happen at work. New Year's day brings the prospect of change because everday is a new thing.
In the background are the leaders called to bring the message of hope and newness to a generation typically stuck in the doldrums of the same old, same old. My heart breaks as pastors, church staffers, and oter servants seek to live and lead the new creation in a culture of spiritual malaise. Please take a minute, give them some encouragement, pray for them with greater urgency, and give the Lord thanks that they are living his new thing every day.
The world won't see anything new come Thursday. There's nothing new under the sun. But, his people know something new every moment of every day. And to them I say, "Happy new thing!"