“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
– 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
We have a saying at my church – “Jesus changes everything.”
That’s what this whole series is about…how Christ’s death on the cross changed everything, and created a way for us to be made new. We are now the ‘chosen people’.
“We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7 (ESV)
When we chose to be rescued from our mess, God chose to free us from our sin. Our ‘old self’ was crucified with Christ – it was put to death, abandoned, stripped away from us. We no longer belong to that which was, but to that which is and will always be – our Redeemer.
We now have a new identity. That’s what being made new changes about us – that’s what the cross changes about us. It changes the very core of who we are. We need no longer identify with our sin, but with the Overcomer of it, because the reality is: our sin is no match for His grace.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)
If we are living the reality that we have died to sin and are alive in Christ, then we cannot continue to walk in sin, but in the ‘newness of life’.
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1 (ESV)
Pay attention to that first word. The last half of Ephesians 4 talks of the new life we have in Christ, and the first word in Ephesians 5 is ‘therefore’. This is so important. Because of the new life we now have, we must be imitators of God. We must be Christ-like.
How are we supposed to be Christ-like in this depraved world, though?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Remember how the cross changes our identity? It also changes another thing: the way in which we view the world (or more simply put, our worldview).
My pastor often uses the phrase, “the lens of Christ”. And this is what that change looks like. We no longer see the world through the blinders of our own sin and brokenness, but through the lens of Christ. Suddenly, everything takes on a new shape and form.
Meeting in church becomes more than just a ritual, it becomes an opportunity to fellowship with other believers and develop intentional relationships with them.
Interacting with those in your school, workplace, or neighborhood suddenly becomes a high-priority, because every moment with someone becomes a moment you can share the gospel.
You find yourself being more patient, more loving, and more giving.
This is how it should be anyways. This is how being made new should affect how we interact with the world.
But it’s not always revealed in action. Sometimes it’s revealed in smaller things. Sometimes it simply makes you look at things differently.
I remember hearing about a car accident near our house, when I was younger. My brother asked how damaged the car was…I wondered aloud whether the person was saved or not.
I remember trying to plan get-togethers with mutual friends that my brother and I had. My brother came up with ideas for games…I asked if we were going to have a short devotional.
Those are just two small examples, but do you see how my thoughts differed from those of my brother’s thoughts? Because of the change and the newness that I had experienced, I no longer cared about petty things, but about eternal things. And no, I am absolutely not perfect, and absolutely still find myself caring about petty things, but…there was still change, and that change still occurs. I continue to be molded and formed, to be changed and renewed through the continuous, saving-grace that God blesses me with.
We have the unimaginable privilege of fully belonging to a perfect God – a God who sent His only Son to pay the penalty we could never pay, for the sins we could never break away from on our own.
Don’t try to break away on your own…transformation – the new life we can have in Christ- only comes through Christ, and His work on the cross. Our new identity? It only rests in the Savior of this world. Our new worldview? It can only be through the lens of Christ.