With the new year upon us, seven days in to be exact, I was asked to write on my thoughts about “New Creation, kainos ktisisf” and for reference I was offered 2 Corinthians 5. Well I have to say after reading this chapter I can’t help but get caught up on the fact that it reads like stereo instructions. The problem with this is, if you’re like me, you skip the written instructions and go right to the diagram and the bible doesn't come with diagrams. In this case, I am in luck, as this chapter does have a diagram, 2 Corinthians 5: 17, the famous, or infamous; “if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” This diagram is not as easy to read as stereo diagrams and I feel leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to understanding our relationship with the Holy Trinity. Why would any creator, create its creation and then tell them that they have to be more then what they were created to be; while at the same time saying that the creation must seek out the creator in order for this upgrade to an acceptable form? This brings to mind the image of early 90’s video games such as Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man, where Mario or Mega were incapable of completing their quests without upgrades, such as mushrooms that made you large enough to crush everything, or a feather that turned you into a raccoon that could fly, or a new more powerful weapon that allowed you to destroy the evil machines blocking your path to your creator. In any case you just weren't good enough without the upgrade and your creator or princess or whatever was just so far away from you and removed the quest that you were actually on!
I have never been able to really buy this video game imagery of what it means to be in Christ and become a new creation because if you have ever played any of these games what happens if you are on mushroom power and something bad happens? Well, you shrink back into your original form and you must be very careful about what you do, so that you do not lose your life, else you will be forced to start the whole level over again. Let me tell you, this happened to me more times than not and really, this is what happens to us in our spiritual lives as well, wouldn't you agree? We are riding a spiritual high, having the power of the Holy Spirit backing our moves, things are going right left and right and then we make a stupid move or we have something go wrong, a death, lose a job, ect. ect. and then the questioning of God’s role(s) in our life happen and doubt sets in and sure enough we have shrunken back down to the form we were before our spiritual upgrade, but in truth, were we ever super-sized to begin with? What changed, our perception, the things happening around us? Did God suddenly forsake us because we were human and made a stupid decision or take our loved one as a cruel punishment for something we were un-repentant about? What a petty small god, truly a god of Roman or Greek acclaim, wouldn't you agree? Still, Paul seems to push this idea of becoming something better then what you were when you are in Christ. While I disagree with the idea of suddenly being something better, I do agree with Paul’s summation point that being in Christ means that we no longer need to be reconciled to God, but instead we are those who are now charged with reconciling the other to God.
Simplifying the chapter down to Paul’s summation point makes more sense than the diagram sentence. This point charges us with a new mission for our life without specifically telling us how to go about it or raising the bar for our actions to a level that is disparaging and causes you to just want to not play the game. Simply, it says, now that you are in Christ, you have become a minister to those around you. After all, didn't Christ come and suffer as human to demonstrate how to bring us back into right relationship with God the creator, with each other, and with creation? With that in mind, to be in Christ, or to act in a Christ like way would mean that we act toward bringing others back into right relationship with God, with each other, and with creation. Now, in a small way, at least when it comes to your thought process(es) a change does/may occur, depending on those things that you put priority in before accepting this call.
That is where my understanding of becoming a new creation ends paralleling Paul’s stereo instructions. He is overly concerned with that which is beyond it is frustrating to think that such a prolific authority could be so distracted with what was beyond, after all didn't Jesus say bring that he would bring the kingdom of God to humanity? If we act as Christ and Christ acted in a manner to bring the kingdom to humanity then it is fair to say that by accepting a call to bring humanity back into right relationship is to bring the kingdom to humanity, not prepare humanity for the kingdom. All of the talk about that which is beyond puts too much stress on a need for perfection, for preparing our souls to be in the presence of God, but God sought us out. God became a man and lived as a human, suffered as a human, and died as a human, so why do we concern ourselves with this notion of being more then what God created us to be, in some search for absolute, everlasting perfection? In my opinion our flesh can never be perfect and our souls already are.
I look at being a new creation in Christ like the Green Lantern. Hal Jordan was a reliable/unreliable guy with the best of intentions and all the courage in the world. He was flawed and when he accepted the call to be a Lantern those flaws did not change. He is often made fun of for those flaws. However, what changed for Hal was his purpose and calling. He now had a new focus and new knowledge, but he was still the same Hal Jordan. Now I chose this imagery over the video game imagery earlier because even though Hal got a ring and “super-ed” up, the powers of the Lantern only amplify the abilities and qualities with in the ring bearer. They did not change who Hal was, they did not make him invincible; what they did do was change his priorities, so that he could bring things back into right relationship from their broken or threatened state.
When we chose to be in Christ, live as Christ, have faith in Christ we find a change of priorities within our world. We do not suddenly stop speaking the same way or become a perfect replica of ourselves, without any flaws. We stay ourselves, but we embrace a calling to work towards bringing humanity into right relationship with God, each other, and creation. This can be done in so many ways. I love what Frederick Buechner had to say about a calling. He said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Even here, you do not need to change who you are to answer your calling, for your calling intersects who you are with a need. My idea of a new creation does not need to focus on our soul or the afterlife because our soul, in my opinion, is that part of the creator that lives within each of us and is perfect without need of change.
With the new year upon us many of you may have made resolutions to change things about yourself that you don’t like, may be quit a bad habit you picked up along the way, lose some weight, or maybe even gain some weight. Whatever it may be those changes will not change who you are or who you were created to be. They might make you feel better about yourself, but they will not change who you are. Like a new year’s resolution becoming a new creation in Christ does not change who you are, it does not prepare your soul for the afterlife, but what it does do is create a new focus for who you already are, a new purpose for all your talents and flaws and that is to help God in bringing humanity back into right relationship with God, each other, and creation.