The word “new” promises us hope. We have a sense that what is new is better. This was true when we replaced our dying washing machine this past week with a new one. We anticipate that the new machine will serve us better than the old one. We look to the New Year with similar anticipation, with hope that it will be better than the past one.
Even if last year was great, we still look forward to the New Year hoping that it will be even better. Those that are pessimistic about the New Year would be wise to take the advice of American theatre critic Brooks Atkinson, “Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” Let it go. This is good advice not only for the New Year but also with most things in life.
The good news that Christ brings us is the promise of a new beginning. We need not wait for the New Year to start a new life in Christ; the opportunity is available to us 24/7, 365 days a year! We need not wait for the change of date on the calendar; we can start now! You may ask,“How can I leave the past in the past and live for Christ today?” Paul answers, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Some suggest that this is just too easy, but who said that it needed to be difficult? Christ has done all the work for us! In Christ, the sins of our past were put to death so that we might have new life in Him. Listen to how Paul explains this in Colossians 2, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (13-14)
We are made new when we confess our sins, having them nailed to the cross with Christ. Just as Atkinson tells us to “drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past”, so too in Christ are we able to walk free from the burden of past sins. Our sins been removed and nailed to the cross with Christ. Psalms 103 testifies, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (8-9)
We may want to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m doing fine on my own!” But are you? Our old washing machine looked nice, but it was a constant battle to get it to start, and once it did it would often stop. We replaced it because it did not work. Similarly, Hebrews 9:15 tells us that in Christ the new covenant was established to give us the life we need. “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” Those that receive new life in Christ are promised eternal life. Hebrews testifies how the New is superior to the Old because the new brings us an eternal hope.
The hope we need in the New Year, and every day, comes by the New Life that is promised to all who believe in Christ. My prayer for you in this New Year is for you to discover the fullness of the hope that Christ has purchased for you on the cross. As you consider what Christ has done for you, my hope is that you will find rest in the eternal hope established for you in the new covenant.