Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5:17
When I was a child, we sang a song in Sunday school, “I’ll tell you the best thing I ever did do…was to take off the old robe and put on the new.” There was a refrain that compared the old and the new assuring us the best thing was the new robe. Did any of you ever sing that little ditty?
Today as adults we’re still being asked to change and replace things in our lives. I have friends who hate change—“Don’t move that chair.” “I don’t want to have to relocate.” “Why do I have to get another doctor?” “But that’s my favorite sweater.” And so on. We seem to forget that change is one of the givens in life. Every day brings something new and different, and we either get on board with change or we get run over and left by the wayside.
God calls on us regularly to change. He gives us the opportunity to discover his power in a new way; he calls us to accept a challenge we’ve never considered; he urges us to replace old habits and methods with his new, fresh work in our lives. “The old robe was tattered, all dirty and torn; the new robe was spotless and never been worn. I’ll tell you the best thing I ever did do was to take off the old robe and put on the new.”
The Holy Spirit implores us to let go of the fleshly nature that inhibits our exploring new worlds with him. He asks us again and again to die to those desires and weaknesses that have so long identified us. We’re comfortable with our sweet old selves and forget that his promise is always new for old, good for bad, strength for weakness, joy for sorrow, beauty for ashes. We hand in our hearts of stone; he replaces them with hearts of flesh. We give him the dark places of denial; he shines light and sets us free. And on and on.
We are afraid of change. What will God do to me if I surrender the old ways, the old habits, the old attitudes? Nothing God gives us in exchange for the temporal rubbish to which we cling disappoints. How can we even begin to think that the God of the universe will replace garbage with something of even lesser value? Do we really expect our loving Father to treat us so unkindly?
We surrender to him ourselves, our natures, our attitudes, our preferences, our whole lives and intentionally reach out to receive all the life that he has promised in Christ Jesus. All the love, all the fruit for all of eternity. How can we foolishly cling to junk when he offers us the treasures of the Kingdom?
Take off the old robe and put on the new.
Father, thank you for your Spirit that keeps working and refining us so that we look more and more like Jesus. Don’t allow us to be comfortable with the slightest vestige of the old self just because we’ve always been that way. Replace all the flesh in us with your dear Son. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.