New job, new digs, new neighborhood- I feel like a brand new man. And I feel so convicted about that.
I just got an internship I had been pushing for, and with it the opportunity to move seven miles north of Downtown Minneapolis, where I’ve been for the last three years. It’s no secret that I’ve always disliked the city, so living on the edge is much nicer. My house is much bigger and better than anything I’ve had in the last few years, so I feel like I’m living in a palace. And to top it off, I get to spend much more of my time in ministry at a church I enjoy- put it all together and I feel like a whole new me.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s not wrong to enjoy any of those things, and it’s not wrong to want make the push to do things differently in new circumstances, but this feels like an identity shift- I can feel myself looking to this happy conflation to make me a newer, better person. It won’t.
There are any number of reasons why it won’t, but one of them is simply that I can’t get any newer than I am now, excepting the new body I get when Jesus comes back. I’m new- I’m absolutely new, and it’s because Jesus made me new, not because I got a chance to distance myself from the mistakes I made yesterday.
I don’t think this is abstract, and I don’t think it’s semantics. See, when I feel new because I’m operating in a new capacity at work, or because I bought a new pair of sweet sunglasses, I act differently- don’t you? But that difference in the way I act is shaped by the thing which made me feel that way, and it only lasts as long as the thing which made me that way is new. As soon as the shades get scratched, I’m no longer promenading around with my chin held high and my chest puffed out (this is just an example- I’m not the promenading type; more of an ambler). But when Christ makes me new, he makes me like him, and my new way of life lasts as long as he does. And the way I think about that matters. “Put on the new self,” Paul says, “created after the image of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
So if you see me sashaying around like I own the place, feel free to remind me who made me new- who really made me new.