Originally published Wednesday, 06 January 2016.
I just love the feel of new things. Crisp white paper just waiting for words, ideas, and stories to be written. Shiny new shoes to match that new dress. A new book with a spine that's never been cracked open. A new day with the sun just beginning to shine its rays through the window. A new year filled with possibility for adventure, change, and hopes fulfilled.
New things hold promises and expectations. Perhaps we'll write our best work on that piece of paper. Maybe the new shoes and dress will make us feel beautiful. Maybe that new book will answer all our questions. Maybe this new day will be better than the last. And maybe, just maybe, this new year will finally be the year when our life turns out the way we have hoped.
Unfortunately, there is often a dark side to "new." More often than not, those new things fail to deliver on their promises. Rather than bringing hope, they only bring disappointment. The new dress that fit perfectly in the store doesn't look quite the same when you get home (why is that by the way?). The new book fails to stimulate the mind or solve problems or is altogether boring. The new day that promised clear skies only darkens with clouds and the rest of the day is rainy and cold.
And what about the new year? We all face a new year with similar hopes and expectations. But a few months in, we often find ourselves disappointed. Our job stays the same. The bills still pile up. Our children still struggle in school. Our crazy schedules keep us from the gym. And the doctor still calls with bad news.
Our Longing for "New"
Our hopeful expectations are not without reason. Deep down, there's a reason we look for new things in the hopes they will make life better. Because deep down, we know that this in not how life is supposed to be. We know life should not be filled with things that break, friendships that hurt, and jobs that are lost. We know that life is supposed to be more. Much more. It's like an echo of a sound made long ago that we hear deep inside our bones. It's a stirring in our soul that the writer to the Ecclesiastes describes as "eternity in the human heart" (3:11).
We were made for something more than this world. We were created for eternity. It is this longing for the joy and perfections of eternity that makes us long for all that's new and better. The problem is that we try to find eternity here on earth. We try to find our hope in new things here on earth. But what we long for deep in our heart will never be found in new houses, new friendships, new churches, or new shoes. What we are searching for is not found in new things, new days, or even new years.
It's found in a person: Jesus Christ.
Christ Makes All Things New
Our longing for eternity, for things to be made right, is found in Christ. Our search for hope, meaning, purpose, and significance is found in him alone. And that desperate desire for life to work and make sense can only be fulfilled in Christ. Everything else pales in comparison. Everything else is a counterfeit. A substitute. An idol. We were made to love, worship, and be in communion with Christ and nothing else will suffice. Everything else will disappoint and fail to deliver.
That is why he came to earth. Our Savior emptied himself, took on flesh, lived a sinless life in this broken world, and gave himself to redeem us from our sins so that we could be reunited with him. Through faith in his work on the cross for us, we get the "new" that we really need. We get the "new" that changes things. We are made new through the work of his Spirit in us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Romans 6:4 says, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." The "new" that we've longed for is happening not outside of us, but in us.
And one day our Lord will return and make all things new. Permanently. Not the new that we are used to where after one day on the street our new shoes are scratched and worn--but completely new. "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
On that day our faith will be sight. The longing for eternity will no longer be a faint echo but a reality. All things will be made right and new and we'll be with our Savior forever. That's the "new" we need to focus on this new year. Whatever our plans or hopes for this new year, may they all remind us and point us to the "new" that we have in Christ and the "new" that is still to come.