My wife and I recently packed up all our worldly possessions, said goodbye to our one bedroom apartment on Franklin Terrace, and moved 20 blocks west to the lower level of a duplex. It’s an old brick house built at the beginning of the 20th century. Hardwood floors. Mysterious metal tubes running from floor to ceiling in nearly every room. Built in wooden buffet. And nearly double the space of our one bedroom place on the east side of town.
As you can imagine—better said, as you probably know from firsthand experience—moving entails, well, somewhat of a transition. Everything is new. New location requiring new mental city maps to be drawn to get from home to work to church to the store and back efficiently. New neighbors requiring a lot of those awkward sidewalk conversations (you know, the ones you didn’t really intend to start but you have to and that you really aren’t quite sure how to end). New space requiring new ideas of how to fill said space either with what you already own or with that perfect something awaiting you in some thrift store.
Yup, everything is pretty much new and different. That is, except for one thing. Me. I’m still the same ol’ guy I was back on Franklin Terrace. Completely new surroundings. Completely same ol’ guy. Same ol’ habits (good and bad). Same ol’ desires (good and bad). Same ol’ irritations (mostly bad). I’m not more patient with my wife. I don’t pray more. I still have trouble with self-control. Turns out I brought all that I am along with me to my new house.
Truly a change in a person’s residence or vehicle or vocation or marital status doesn’t change the person. It only changes the house, the car, the job, or the (presence or absence of a) spouse. And that realization can be disappointing. You’d think outward changes would affect this inward man. But they don’t.
It takes something much more profound to really change a person. In fact, I would argue it takes an act of God. No sarcasm intended. This is where things get mind-bendingly glorious.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” What Paul says here is that if a person is “in Christ,” he’s not who he used to be. Paul’s taking about a change that affects the very essence of who a person is. It’s a change that is so radical that he’s comparing it to that person being created anew. The old person he used to be has ceased to exist, and in his place stands a completely new person.
That’s what I thought moving to new house (or getting a new job or buying a new car or obtaining a new whatever) might do for me—make me new. It didn’t. Only those who are “in Christ” are made new from the inside out.
So are you “in”? If you’re not sure, I would encourage you to click here to read more about coming to know this Christ and make sure that you are, in fact, “in him.”
For those of you who are “in Christ,” you are a new person. Moving didn’t and can’t accomplish that for you. Neither can upgrading to the latest smart phone, losing a couple of extra pounds, or getting that promotion at work. You spouse can’t make you new. Neither can your children. In fact, nothing and no one can do this recreating work inside the human heart but Jesus. And if you’ve got him, why are you looking anywhere else but to him to make you other than what you are right now? And if you don’t have him yet, you can. The good shepherd who gave his life for the sheep is seeking the lost. Come to him today and be made new.