Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
I got stuck on this verse. Well, maybe not stuck, but I could not stop thinking about it. Most days, I don’t feel like a new creation. Most days I feel all crudded up by life. By sin.
For me, part of becoming a Christian, maybe even the largest part, was being made aware of my sin. Prior to that awareness–that awakening, I thought I was golden because I was a pretty good guy. I was nice to old people and animals. I didn’t do any drugs, I didn’t fool around. I hadn’t had the same kind of big, dramatic experiences I heard people talk about over the years, no twelve step programs, no prison, never been to war. I should be good, shouldn’t I? Nothing to worry about?
I went for years thinking along those lines….years.
But when I had that experience at the river, when I became aware that I had in fact been (and remained) a sinner, when I asked Jesus to take that burden from me, I was still aware of the person I had been afterward, even though I wasn’t entirely him anymore.
So even though I knew in my head that I was made new, I did not necessarily feel that way. I still don’t.
But here’s the thing I’ve been trying to think about, and remember.
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 6-8
So even before I knew him, even while I was still wallowing in my filth, even while I consoled myself with huge quantities of food, or alcohol, or empty relationships, God loved me just as much in that state of disgrace as he does now in a state of grace.
Before I existed, He died for me. And whether I like it or not, whether I accept it or not, I am a new creation.
The old has gone, the new has come.
I was listening to this Brennan Manning sermon the other day, and he had a really good point. He said that until we can accept acceptance, we aren’t really a believer. I think part of my problem is that very thing: it’s hard for me to be accepted. I would convince myself that either my friends did not really accept me as I was, or if they did, once they found out the real me, they would bail like everyone else did.
It was much the same with God. I have always had difficulty accepting His acceptance, and His love. No, I don’t deserve it.
The wages of sin is death.
But I have it anyway–I have his acceptance. And even if I had not ever seen Him as he desires to be seen, and accepted Him as abba, I would still have his love.
8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
He died for us.
He died for us.
He died for me.
I am not worthy of Him, nor would anything I could do on earth make me worthier.
Yet I am loved, and because of Jesus, have a place in his kingdom.
Anyway, I plan to work on being a new creation….and trying to see myself the way God sees me.
I think of a pearl, lying in a freshly opened oyster, or whatever mollusk pearls come from. All crudded up with sediment, and filth, and layers of built up….junk.
Jesus removes the impure jewel from its shell, resplendent in its rough beauty, dripping with water, tendrils of slime leading back to the shell. He holds it in his hand, ignoring the slime, and layer by layer, peels away the filth, grime, and sediment, until the thing in his hand is no longer rough, but shining.
A pearl of great price.