Easter was just one week ago and the Easter season is still upon us! Easter is a wonderful reminder of all we have gained through our new life granted to us by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The reality of that new life, however, isn't so easy to grasp; especially when we feel like the same old person we were before we knew Him and accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. So, the question arises: how can we begin to open our eyes to the new life we have in Christ?
Please allow me a moment to set the scene. You are a true, spirit filled believer in Jesus Christ. You have accepted Him into your life and believe in the power of the Holy Resurrection. You have learned (either at a very young age in Sunday School or when you were converted sometime later in life) that as believers, we enter into a new life that offers up eternity in Heaven and God with us right here and now. But... the trouble is, you don't feel very new. You woke up the morning after becoming a believer and you were still you: imperfect, stumbling through life, with regrets and mistakes that hadn't just vanished as you started walking with Jesus. So, what's all this talk about new life? How can something be new when it's still the same old something as before?
The problem we have as humans when we talk about new life, is we talk about it in the context of something we can tangibly touch, feel, see, or experience. We think about it in the framework of something being added to our lives that had not been there before. Think: new job, new baby, new love. These all invoke new life because they offer up new, exciting opportunity and are often visibly "new". New life in the Christian sense of the term is less about what is there and more about what is not there... and this is where we get hung up and confused. When we enter into new life, at least a part of us is expecting that new life to manifest itself into something everyone can see. Maybe we look better and our new, more Jesus-like self is perfected for the world to see. Maybe we have a shiny halo that hangs around our heads. Perhaps, everything we have ever done has been wiped from everyone's minds and we can reintroduce ourselves as if for the very first time.
Though I can't guarantee better looks or even debate with you on the cost of the production of gold accessories for all believer; the last part might be the most accurate illustration of new life we have, if not for a few caveats. You see, maybe we should think of our new life in the realm of the removal of cancer from the body. When a person is, unfortunately, infected with a cancer, almost always it can be witnessed on the outside. The person may have become skinnier (or in some cases, bloated in an unnatural manner); there might have been dietary changes; hair loss; change to skin tone. All of these things are indicators of a life that is being lived, in such case, through extreme difficulty. But, what happens when that cancer is removed? By surgery or chemotherapy (maybe even radiation), that old life, that sickness has been taken from the body and a new cancer-free life has replaced it. This isn't always, and likely never evident at first. The person still might look sick; their hair might still be gone; color might not have found its way back to their cheeks yet; they might still be on a suppressed diet... does that mean that they don't possess that new life they were given? Of course not! Sometimes, it just takes time for the outside to match what is inside.
This is how we can see our new life in Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, all that He is, by means of the Holy Spirit are implanted in us, and we have become new. That doesn't mean that we will look different at first in the way we look, act, or feel. Our outsides have to catch up to what is inside and that takes time, learning, and especially healing. But, remember how I said that maybe everything we have ever done has been wiped from everyone's minds and we can reintroduce ourselves as if for the first time? What's that all about? Well, think of it this way: When we are made new in Christ, our sins, our past, and all that holds us back is wiped away in God's eyes. He remembers it no more.. Others might remember, there might be wrongs we need to make right; but, with God we are new and so we can start reintroducing ourselves as such.
You see, if we can open our eyes to the truth of the new life inside of us, the new life that is more about what isn't there than what is, we can begin to step into the new life God intends for us to have. We can go boldly knowing that just because we can't see Him working in us, doesn't mean He isn't working in us, and we can begin to accept it as our own. Perhaps then, we can start looking more and more like Jesus and less like us.