Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
The new year has begun and so have the fitness commercials- diet plans, exercise equipment, gym memberships. The marketplace answers to our New Year’s resolutions are out there everywhere- get in shape, unclutter your closet, find true love on some dating website, stop smoking, jumpstart your career, the list goes on. But most of the time we don’t actually end up doing any of that. I gave up caffeine once. It was the worst thirty minutes of my life.
The truth of fallen humanity is this:
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:15-20 (NRSV)
We have the best intentions, just like all those New Year’s resolutions that more likely as not are completely forgotten by February 1.
It is only by the grace of God that we can do anything, let alone anything good. In Christ we can do all things (Philippians 4:13) but apart from Him we can do nothing. Let that one sink in.
In Christ we are made new, every day. Martin Luther taught that we should “put on Baptism every day.” It’s not just a one time deal that most of us don’t remember if we were baptized as infants. In the Sacrament of Baptism, Pastor speaks these words as he anoints the person being baptized with oil: “Marked with the Cross of Christ forever.” That marking is an ongoing, dynamic process that starts from that point forward.
Jesus is constantly making us new. Even when our half-hearted resolutions fail or we fall on our faces. This new-making process is always going on even in this “not-yet” world.