As we enter the New Year we recognize a few things:
2017 Was A Tough Year
No doubt, there was a lot of good that happened in 2017. But there was also a lot of tragedy.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose destroyed hundreds of homes and shattered countless lives while wildfires ravaged both Northern and Southern California.
Terrorism was a daily reality. In January alone, there were 161 terror attacks all over the world. I didn’t bother looking up the statistics for February through December. (If you’re so inclined, you can find the statistics HERE.)
2017 saw more tragic shootings than ever in places like Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and even on a Congressional baseball field.
It was also a year of increased polarization and hostility in terms of politics, religion, race, and so forth. More and more, it seems, we consider those who are different to be our enemies.
Still We Celebrate
We just celebrated the joy of a baby born in Bethlehem. And a week after that we celebrate the coming of a new year.
Why do we do that? In the face of all the brokenness of the world, why do we insist on celebrating?
I think it’s because both of these celebrations—Christmas and New Year—represent hope. Both of these serve as a reminder that the future can be better than the past.
A Reason for Hope
The apostle Paul seems to argue that we have a reason for hope. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, he says this:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Why do we have a reason for hope? Under what circumstances can there be hope?
There can be hope…“if anyone is in Christ.”
But why? Why should being “in Christ” give us hope?
Because the result of being “in Christ” is “new creation”!
There it is. What a beautiful expression: new creation! That’s what we long for, isn’t it? For the world to be made new. For our nations to be made new. For our neighborhoods to be made new. For our relationships and families to be made new. For our lives to be made new.
Can I share something cool about these words?
In Greek, this expression—“if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come”—is actually kind of a mess, grammatically speaking. It goes like this: ei tis en Christo, kaine ktisis.
It literally translates to English as: “if anyone in Christ, new creation.”
That doesn’t make any grammatical sense. Where are the verbs?! And who is the new creation? What is the new creation? Exactly what is the relationship between the new creation and being in Christ?
What I love about this is that it seems like Paul is trying to communicate something that he just doesn’t have the words for. It’s almost like he can’t contain himself and just blurts out as best he can something about what happens when we are “in Christ.” And what happens?
This is our hope. The fact that Jesus has made new creation possible.
In fact, for those who are in Christ, new creation is a present reality, not just a future possibility. For those who are in Christ, the world—even a world as broken as ours—is a world of new creation. For those who are in Christ, they themselves have become a new creation!For those who are in Christ, new creation is a present reality, not just a future possibility... the world—even a world as broken as ours—is a world of new creation... we have become a new creation! Click To Tweet
We who are in Christ both belong to and are the new creation. You know what that means?
It means that we can have hope for the world and for our lives.
The New is Here
And, so, we celebrate with hope.
We celebrate Christmas with hope—because Jesus makes new creation possible.
We celebrate the coming of the New Year with hope—because new creation is not only a possibility; it is God’s promise.
In fact, the promise of new creation is so certain that we can declare with Paul these amazing words:
“The old has gone, the new is here!”