Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. 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! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I like the hope proclaimed in this passage because it speaks of all that Christ accomplishes within us. His presence within us helps us to stop looking at the outside of an individual - it helps us to see the heart, to realize the presence of God within them, and to keep us away from the terrible habit of judging a book by its cover! As a result of the decision to welcome Christ into our hearts, and into our new year, we are able to move away from our past habits of judging others - seeing how they have been given a fresh start just like us. Yes, they still have hurts and hang-ups, but so do we. No, they don't always get things right in their lives, but neither do we. God's message to us today is to remember the decision to follow him gives each of us a 'fresh perspective', not only in how we see our lives, but in how we observe and interpret the actions of those we are in relationship with, as well.
We get it 'all wrong' when we only look upon the outside - because we all put forth our 'best us' for the outside world to see, don't we? We can see something quite different when we look underneath that 'best us' front! Anyone united with Christ - don't miss that - united with him means there has been a choice to enter into relationship, to remain close to him, and to afford specific opportunities for the relationship to grow. Have you ever tried to use regular white glue to hold two pieces of wood together? It works, yes, but there is something insufficient in the attachment because white glue was not intended to bind to wood. Wood glue, on the other hand, creates a bond so tight it is almost impossible to break the bond without damaging the wood it binds together! Why? It was designed to create the bond - to create a tight hold. When we make the choice to be 'united' with Christ, it is like the perfect 'glue' has been applied to our lives - we are 'bound' together and that 'bond' is not easily broken!
As I have begun to experiment with my woodworking hobby, I have done a lot of 'looking' at the underside of a project. You see, I have learned there are particular joints that work well to hold the box together, or that a screw can bind something together in such a way so as to be hidden from view. It is oftentimes what is concealed from our immediate view that betrays either the strength or weakness of an object. What is in a man's heart determines either the strength or weakness of that man - not his statement of faith - but the living of that faith. The one who enters into relationship with (united with) Christ bears the marks of forgiveness. There are clear signs of having the grace of God applied in their life - signs we don't see by merely looking at what is portrayed on the surface. Grace leaves tell-tale signs that a master 'craftsman' has been at work! You won't see where bonds have been created on the outside, but look beneath the surface and you might just begin to see how God's craftmanship shines over and over again! Just sayin!