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Tag: new creation

Old Hope for the New Year

by Mike McKinniss

I’ve got babies on the brain. My wife and I are expecting the arrival of our first—any day now!—and the occasion has propelled my mind, quite naturally, to new beginnings. During the Advent season, it was a new and wonderful experience to be anticipating the birth of our own daughter while we read the stories of our savior’s arrival. Now, I don’t expect our little girl to be the world’s redeemer, but we’re excited, nonetheless.

In the process, I landed for a time on a passage occasionally associated with Christmas, though it doesn’t highlight the nativity. It’s John’s prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:1-5, NIV).

In the beginning. Made. Life. Light. Darkness.

We’ve heard these words before. They’re words borrowed from the very first pages of the Bible. (Go ahead and read Genesis 1:1–2:3 to get the full context.) It’s a funny thing for John to begin his story about Jesus by first reminding us of creation. What’s he trying to do?

What John and his original audience would have known—and we might not—is that the Christ-child entered a world predominated by darkness. Jesus was born to Jewish parents in the heart of Palestine, maybe a year or two on either side of what we would now call year one. At the time, Jesus’ countrymen were weary. For 700 years (700!), this once noble people had been toiling under foreign oppression. Their latest overlords, the Romans, were among the most brutal, at one time (not long after Jesus’ resurrection) publicly executing so many Jews on crosses, they ran out of wood. Many of Jesus’ contemporaries were enslaved by crippling debt. Where could they look for relief?

It was as Isaiah had predicted several generations earlier: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (Isa. 60:2a, NIV).

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Out With The Old, In With The New

by Rob Dunne

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Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. John 12:24

Two years ago, my wife Kellie and I planted a few sunflower seeds in the front of our condo. Thinking I was going to work up a sweat digging into the ground, I was disappointed to learn that they only required an inch or two of soil to grow. Adding fertilizer in the early stages provided them with strong roots. Blazing sunlight that would ordinarily scorch a flower was just right for the appropriately named sunflowers. Daily watering also nourished the flowers and allowed them to grow tall. The death of the seed allowed the flower to come to life.

Like growing sunflowers, things in God’s economy occur in stages. In Genesis, God interacts with a man named Abram. He tells Abram to leave his family and travel to a land that He will show him. Over several years, God reveals His plans to Abram. Ultimately, God changes his name from Abram to Abraham. God then discloses that Abraham will be the father of many nations. The life and death of Jesus Christ ultimately fulfilled this promise.

Every person ever born bears the mark of original sin committed by Adam and Eve. Jesus, however, was conceived by the Holy Spirit. As a result, He was born free from that original sin. He lived a perfect, sinless life and fulfilled all of the requirements of the Jewish law. Jesus took the punishment for our sins and shed His blood to cover them. He was buried in a tomb and raised to new life. Like a sunflower seed, His death and resurrection transformed Jesus into new creation.

If our heart’s desire is to become more like Jesus, we must die to our former selves. Who we once were is symbolically buried. The Word of God fertilizes the soil of our hearts, giving us strong roots. The light of God’s love causes darkness to flee and nourishes our souls. Jesus the living water sustains us and helps us grow tall in our faith. These things bring incredible transformation to our lives.

Father, I thank you that you love us too much to leave us alone. Your heart’s desire is to mold and shape us into the image of your Son Jesus. Take away the fear of dying to self and give us a glimpse of the men and women you know we will become. As a loving gardener, remove the weeds in our lives and feed us with the wisdom of your Word. Like a sunflower, help us to stand tall in our faith so that the world will see all of the amazing things you have done in and through us. Amen.

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