Mar 24, 2013

Easter New

Easter is about many important things, but none more important than the promise of newness. Easter is a promise of renewal, set in a season of renewal, when everything starts over in the freshness of a new awakening.

How desperately our world still needs that fresh awakening. We need a renewing return to our innocence, to the “childhood” of our soul. We need again a time to be free of the crush of overwhelming responsibility. We need again to know an existence without the creeping cynicism which comes from knowing too much and being too aware.

From the very beginning, God envisioned such a renewal for His people. Always, His redemptive plan has been about the restoration of the human spirit and the human condition. His intention has always been and remains today to redeem not only our soul but our everyday circumstance.  

What He never intended to do was forgive us only to abandon us to a depraved or debased existence. To encounter Jesus Christ correctly is to rise from the ashes of our own inner and outer failures and know a true and enduring personal success. And that has always been the promise that God held out to mankind in redemption.

Even in the Old Testament of The Bible, the prophet framed God’s vision of newness for the redeemed. It goes like this in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 36, where the prophet speaks ostensibly of the "Promise Land" but prophetically, of the "Promised Life" of these New Testament Times.  

 He says,“…For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
 
“Filth” is very heavy, but “clean” is very light and enables a light heart. A part of God’s vision of newness has always been for His people to be “clean” and, as a result, light hearted.  

The Prophet goes on to speak on God’s behalf about the thorough redemption of humanity, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” 

 God obviously intends that we no longer be consigned to our base nature or the past patterns of our personal failure.  His avowed intention is to set us free from our previous tragedies and the mechanisms which caused them. Instead, He promises a new vitality and a new level of success in our aspirations toward goodness, all based in the sufficiency of His indwelling Spirit.

The resurrected, Living Christ is the link who connects us to God's Spirit.  Through our Spiritual Baptism into Christ, we are merged with the divine vitality.  And in that vitality we find the power to experience true and complete newness.

So finally, the prophet concludes with this. “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

The thrilling point of this wonderful presonal renewal in Christ is what might be called the “access of innocence.”  It is, in essence, the same access which exists between a parent and a beloved child. It flows from a perfected harmony of hearts and a confirmed “trustability” on both sides of the relationship.

This priveleged access, this deeply enriching daily friendship with God, is the best part and the ultimate benefit of what comes from our Christ empowered renewal. And so, God would say, through the prophet, "...you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews (chapter 8), in the New Testament, referred to the promises of these Old Testament verses in explaining the nature and certainty of the New Covenant in Christ. And, again in the New Testament, Jesus speaks so plainly of the opportunity for newness in the simple terms of being “born again.” The Apostle Paul also speaks, in the New Testament, in such terms as becoming “a new creature in Christ Jesus.”

Sometimes, when it comes to redemption, we focus far too much on the idea of mere forgiveness, and far too little on the spectacular possibility in Christ for starting fresh and becoming new.  But, Easter calls to us to remember that God intends much more than "mere forgiveness." Beyond that first step, He offers an exciting, new, and elevated life plane to be found in the power and energy of the Living Savior.  

The simple truth of Easter is that, in the Living Jesus, resides the power to make us – our soul and our circumstance - to be entirely new. Easter fairly screams:

 “Stop sniveling and start rising! Seek and experience the power of the Living Christ to become thoroughly new!”