Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New and Near - you in?

Most of the time, we glance over words as we read text - mostly because our brains are good about picking them up, interpreting them quickly and then moving us onto the next ones.  We don't have to read each individual word to get the "gist" of what is often being said, but we may miss out on something if we don't!  This is why I insist on taking scripture "in context", rather than pulling out a verse or two and hanging my hat on it.  The "context" gives us the substance we'd otherwise just "glance over".  In the 5th chapter of the Second Letter to the Corinthian church, Paul lays out the basis of hope in Christ Jesus.  He begins the chapter with a discussion about a particular hope we all have: resurrection.  In fact, he goes so far as to proclaim we get new bodies!  I don't know about you, but having one free of aches and pains seems pretty awesome to me!  Then he reminds us we don't get to "see" this "transition" from our earthly to our heavenly bodies right now, but it is a hope which keeps us going.  Almost as if he needs to "bring us back down to earth", he transitions to the point of telling his readers to keep a solemn remembrance of having to one day give an account for our actions TODAY.  He pulls us back into the game, so to speak, by reminding us it is the here and now where we need to focus, because today has a purpose - we have been given this day by none other than God himself.  Then we come to the point of our passage this morning - this promise or hope of a new body, a resurrected spirit, beckons us to allow the work of God in our lives today - so we capitalize and enjoy the fresh start we have been given in the here and now.

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!  (2 Corinthians 5:17 MSG)

Newness:  other than the former or old; having but lately come to a place, position, or status; having been brought into.  Newness of life - old gone, new life beckoning us to step out and take territory yet unclaimed in our lives.  This is the condition we find ourselves in today as believers in Christ Jesus.  Each new day is a chance to experience anew the goodness and fullness of God himself.  Our "N" List is really comprised of two character traits:  Newness and Nearness.  You see, it is only as we draw near that we experience fully the newness God intends.  Paul is reminding us it is the work of Christ to "bring us into" this newness he intends - it is not our own.  This is where we often get things all mixed up - we think it is our responsibility to get the "old man" dead and the "new man" perfectly alive in us.  Nope!  It is his work!  Our part is to yield to the hand which seeks to do the work of re-creating us.  

Nearness:  close enough to experience true intimacy; closely related to or connected.  If you have been a reader for any time at all, you have heard me speak frequently about "connection" - for connection determines the output we have in life.  If you buy a hose, but never connect it to the water faucet, what use is the hose.  You could use it as a "rope" of sorts, but it was not made to be a rope.  It was created to be a "conduit" of sorts - carrying something from point A to point B.  To use it any other way is to veer from "manufacturer's specifications" for the hose!  The same is true of us - we were made for connection with God.  To veer from this is to "void" the manufacturer's specifications for our lives!  Yet, we can have a hose fully connected to the faucet and still not have it function as it should - simply because the faucet is still in the "off" position!  Connection is only "valuable" when there is a free-flow!  So, just "knowing" God is not nearness - we might make the connection, but if we miss out on the "free-flow" of his grace, power, and purpose in our lives, we miss out on the whole purpose of the connection in the first place!

There are times when I hear people talking about needing a fresh start.  Their lives just haven't "added up" to what they hoped for when they set out on a particular path, or perhaps the path they are traveling has become a little stale.  This is part of growth - we want a new start at times because the old just hasn't "panned out" quite the way we hoped.  Most of the time it is not because the path was wrong, it just doesn't excite us and cause us to "dig deep" any longer.  So, we change jobs, find a new house, or even look for a new relationship.  What we fail to recognize is that "newness" is only cultivated when there is "nearness".  Accomplish the "nearness" part and the "newness" part will always be close behind!  James 4:8 reminds us to draw near to God and he will draw near to us.  The "nearness" gives us the connection - the newness is a result of the free flow of his grace into our hearts.  The conduit is the spirit of man, connected to the Spirit of God.  

So, rather than constantly flitting here and there looking for something to give us newness in life, we'd do well to draw near, becoming firmly attached to that which promises filling beyond our wildest dreams!  Just sayin!

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