I am a new creation in Christ. I firmly believe that. Like a lot of people who come to Christ later in life, I NEED to believe that. I wasn’t an especially horrible person in my pre-jesus days, and I wasn’t suffering a whole heck of a lot, but I don’t like the person I was then.
I just don’t.
So I need to believe and live in the fact that I am a new creation. This is one reason why I have struggled so much with the question of identity and what it means to be a new creation in Christ. I do not want to be the person I was, I just want to be the new person that Christ has called me to be. I wanted have a Pauline type change where I get to go from mass murderer to apostle, church planter, and evangelist.
I write about this because a couple of days ago, I found an old bracelet of mine that I had bought in my pre-jesus days and I wanted to throw it out… only I didn’t want to throw it out. You know what I mean? Now the design is celtic and is of two dragons and I really struggled with it – not because of the symbolism (Anything can testify to the glory of God), but because it reminded me of a person I didn’t want to be anymore.
Then it occurs to me that yes, Paul changed, but at the same time he didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, he stopped persecuting Christians, but the zeal and passion that fueled his persecution of the early church is the same zeal and passion that fueled his service of Christ. Paul was a diligent student of the Law and the word of God, but that did not change after he encountered Christ but became a tool he used in his new work. When Christ rose again, he still had the scars in his hands and feet (and probably on his back, in his side, and on his forehead but he doesn’t talk about those). I’ve talked about the significance of that before but today I see it, not in terms of the usefulness of our testimony, but more as a question of what does it mean for the new thing, to be a function of the old?
It means that God was moving in my life and brought certain things into my life before I accepted Him so that when we finally got together, when I was finally able to sit down at the table with Him, he could point to these things and say “take this, recalibrate with me at the center. Now how does that feel?”
Let me tell you, if feels pretty darn good.