C Cycle – 4th Sunday of Lent 22
2 Cor. 5:17-21
You have become a new creation in Christ; the old has passed away and all of this is from God who reconciled us to himself in Christ.
What does this mean to us, today in this the 21st century? If we could picture what this new creation looks like, acts like then we can do something to become that new creation. There must be a way to grow spiritually by employing some spiritual exercise, completing some study program, or attending a silent retreat where we can become new creations. You would think we would be given not only a way but the incentive to become a new creation and perhaps it does tell us, but we fail to allow it to happen because we are not in control.
The scriptures tell us this change in us is from God and that means we must allow God to guide us and transform us. For that to happen we must desire to become what God desires us to become. Yet, it is hard to surrender our will and open ourselves to the presence of God’s love and forgiveness. How do we leave the comfort of what we are currently doing spiritually and give ourselves to God to be changed? We have been blinded and deceived by a world view of how a Christian should respond to God and thus miss seeing ourselves the way God views us. We are his delight, and he declares us “very good.” God says we are wonderfully made and created to reflect his glory
Perhaps the issue is we fail to see the new creation is who we have always been in God’s eyes. Perhaps we have never lost the glory we were created with, but our sin has placed a barrier between ourselves and God making us feel less than we are. Perhaps, we feel to understand because we only see our failings to do God’s will. That failure convicts us and tells us we are sinful, we lack discipline and are individuals who fail to do God’s will. We need to learn the lessons of scripture and appropriate for ourselves the grace of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts (Ez.36:26-27) as promised by God.
The scriptures show us how our own desires for forgiveness and seeking the embrace of the Father we will change dramatically. This past week in the scrutiny we see how Jesus maneuvered an encounter with the woman at the well. That encounter challenged her life, her thinking and her image of herself. The encounter with Christ changed her and she became a new person eager for the new life Jesus offered her. This passage about us becoming a new creation is from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It is a statement of fact based on his own knowledge of how wrong we can be in our beliefs and how different we become after an encounter with Christ.
Saul of Tarsus became Paul the great apostle, a new creation in Christ, by his encounter with Jesus. Note Saul was not on a spiritual quest for himself. No, his mission was to protect the faith he believed the Christians were blaspheming. His faith blinded him to the reality of Jesus and his mission to remove the barrier of sin between us and God.
We must allow ourselves to be changed because it is part of God’s plan for us to be who we were created to be. The eleven disciples were changed because they listened to the words of Christ and waited for the Spirit to come upon them at Pentecost. The bible is full of stories of sinners becoming people who by their encounter with Christ became new creations, witnesses to the forgiveness and transforming power of God. The scriptures give us story after story of individuals either seeking or being challenged by Christ which changes them. They become unafraid to acknowledge their past and how by the gift of grace were changed and became witnesses.
My brothers and sisters that is our destiny, to be like Christ. To become the reflection of God as we were in the beginning before sin entered the world. We are to have a rebirth, to stop trying to be holy and stand before God and allow him to embrace us and clothe us in righteousness.
It begins with us acknowledging we cannot become who God desires us to become by our own effort. It begins with us having a desire to experience the presence of Chest and allow his presence to change us. Paul understood that when he wrote this for us “…we behold the presence of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). We like Paul need to have our moment when we stand before Christ in all our sinfulness and allow him to touch our minds and hearts so we too can become new creations in Christ.
We need our moment just as the Centurion did at the foot of the cross and declared, “…truly this is the Son of God (Mk.27:54), or as Thomas did in that upper room saying “…my lord and my God” (Jn.20:28), That journey to become a new creation is not a long one because it is not in what we do to get there that is arduous but it is the desire to acknowledge how we have missed the point of our spiritual journey.
We need to stop trying to be pleasing to God but instead we need to acknowledge we are pleasing to God even with all our sins clinging to us. It is in acknowledging we have tried to become spiritual by our own efforts and by doing so are saying we do not need a savior. Instead, we need to surrender to God’s plan for us to become disciple and give witness to the transforming power of God’s mercy and the work of the Holy Spirit pouring God’s love into our hearts.