"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I don't know about you, but I think there are some things that are better old. An old pair of jeans that fit just right. Old friends who know you inside and out. An old pair of shoes that are so comfortable it's like being barefoot. Then again, new is nice. I love the smell of a new car! It's wonderful to make new friends. Moving into a new home is exciting. And, being made new in Christ is the best "new" of all!!
How are we made "new" in Christ? By accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. You can't help but be changed when that happens. It's like being given freedom after a long prison sentence. It's like coming into the daylight after a long time in the dark. It's like craving chocolate and getting Godiva instead of Hershey's. It's like taking a shower after a long, sweaty, stinky day at work. If we have truly accepted Jesus into our hearts, we can't help but be changed. And the difference in us should not only be noticeable to ourselves but to those around us, too.
What does being made "new" look like? The Bible gives us plenty of examples of what it is to be new in Christ. However, I think the best example is found in Colossians 3:5-10 (NIV): "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge in the image of its Creator." I think these verses make it very clear as to how we are to be changed when we accept Jesus into our hearts.
Is all this going to happen immediately, as soon as we become a follower of Christ? No, but, as we study God's Word, associate with other believers, learn what it means to follow Jesus, we become more aware of these things and begin to make the effort to get them out of our lives. When I rededicated my life to the Lord a few years ago, I began to clean out some of the "old" stuff I'd been allowing into my life. And, as I study my Bible, I am throwing off more of the "old" me. I'm more careful of my language - not only what I say, but how I say it. I'm more aware of my actions and how they affect those around me. I pray more often. I look for ways to serve Him. I rarely miss a church service or small group meeting. I ask others for forgiveness more often. And, I pray that others notice the difference!
Now, don't get me wrong. I am so far from perfect I'm amazed God hasn't given up on me!! I still have problems with my temper and being impatient. I have a hard time giving God control of my finances and my plans. I find myself making decisions without consulting Him first. I forget to pray before my meals. I still lack faith. I still don't feel worthy to ask Him for help for myself. I cannot completely fathom how much He loves me. I still fear sharing my faith with others because of what they might think of me. I am a work in progress, with progress being the operative word. I am moving forward in my Christian walk, slowly but surely. Only with God's help can I continue to become "new" in His Son.
"Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ." - Billy Graham
Dear Precious Jesus, when I accepted You into my heart, You changed me forever. You made me whole and transformed me. May I continually become "new" in You. Show me how my life is to look now that I am Your follower. Give me the desire to share You with others - Your love, Your suffering, Your sacrifice on our behalf. May Your light shine so brightly through me that those around me can't help but see You in me. I ask this in Your name, Amen.