Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Softer blue, sweeter green

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:13

TO CHEW ON: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away’ behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Do you remember the first time you went to the church you now attend, or first saw the house in which you now live? Chances are on that first visit your senses picked up things to which you’ve since become oblivious. A church we once attended was plagued with a water seepage problem and a chronic musty smell. Over time I got used to it so that I never even noticed. But when a new pastor came, he mentioned that smell as making a bad first impression.

In our focus verse today Paul talks about first impressions of the Christian life. They’re good. Everything seems new and changed. I’ve heard people describe how even colors and smells seem brighter and sharper.

Do you remember that time for you? Though I don’t have vivid memories of the day of my childhood conversion, I do recall the day I recommitted my life to Christ as an adult. I felt a great sense of relief: I didn’t have to be the boss of my life any more.

It’s natural for the sense of newness and novelty of our first days as a Christian to abate. But it’s also good to remember that time. It gives us a renewed appreciation for what happened to us that day and how life-shaking the decision to give one’s life to Jesus is. Here are some ways to revisit those days when everything seemed new:

1. Recall the time of your salvation or recommitment to Christ, and read the stories of others.

2. Spend time with new Christians. There’s nothing like the perspective of a baby Christian to help you remember what it was like when you first came to Jesus.

3. Spend time with people or books that promote a world view that’s different from yours. When I do this (and I often just stumble on this more than intentionally pursue it) I get a sense of dis-ease. I think through why I feel that way and realize again how my life in Christ has changed everything.

A footnote in my Bible says: “Christ’s death and Resurrection for us and our identification with Him by faith make existence as a new creation possible…. Our relationship with Christ affects every aspect of life.New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 1616, emphasis added).

It sure does!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Thank You for making possible this new life. Help me never to forget or take for granted the immensity of the change Your death and resurrection made for me. Amen.

MORE: The words of this old hymn talk about first impressions of this new life:
Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christ-less eyes have never seen!
Birds in song His glories show,
Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His and He is mine.
I Am His and He is Mine” by George W. Robinson, 1876
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the day that begins Lent on the church calendar. The Ash Wednesday liturgy starts with these moving words from the Collect:
"Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Read more liturgy for this day…

(From the archives)

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