As we look ahead to 2021 let us reflect on the new life we can have through Jesus Christ. "If anyone is in Christ He is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come." (II Cor 5:17)
We should be encouraged that as we look to the future there is always a new beginning, new direction and a new vision for life. Despite the challenges of COVID and a crazy election year. Perhaps one of the bedrock truths of our joy in the Lord is that He is a God who "makes all things beautiful in His time." (Ecc 3:11)
As we think about a new year, let us reflect on several truths that help us look to the future with hope from the Bible. When we receive Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches us that we are "born again." (John 3:1-10) What does it mean to be born again? First it means that when we believe in Jesus, we go from being spiritually dead and alienated from God because of sin to receiving forgiveness and a restored relationship with God.
Colossians 1:21-22 puts it this way, "You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him." This point of transformation happens when we believe in Jesus in what He accomplished at the cross at His death. Faith's direction must be on Him, not on ourselves.
To be born again also means that a new way of life has been opened up to us. Theologically this is called "sanctification" where through the power of God's Spirit we go from being habitual sinners to living in a new way of life, pleasing to God. Going back to Colossians 3:7-10, the Apostle Paul explained it this way, "In these you too once walked, when you were living in them... anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth... put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
Now through identifying with Jesus and the power we receive through God's Holy Spirit, we can walk in a new way of life "...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 6:4) We no longer have to be defined by behavior, thoughts, and emotions that are destructive to our souls, but now through Christ we can "walk in newness of life."
A final truth of our new life in Christ is a new vision for tomorrow. As I walk with God, God Himself will now guide me to have a vision to improve the world around me. This ultimately will come as I stop serving myself and begin serving the cause of God by serving others. Ultimately, this is where true joy is found and where our true purpose is discovered. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do."
While our good works cannot give us new life, that only comes through our faith in Jesus, the new life that He gives us will produce in us good works. It is with that view that Jesus said, "you are the light of the world... let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)
Ultimately these good works will lead us to share Jesus with others, give financially to support the work of God, getting involved in a local church and praying to see the gospel advanced around the world through missions. As we look to 2021, let us ask God to give us a new vision as we celebrate our new life we have in Christ. That is a vision that is worth living for as we look ahead to the future!