Updated: May 18, 2020
This weekend as we celebrated Easter, I spent some time reflecting on the significance that Easter has. It’s such an important holiday for those of us who follow Christ, but it’s also easy for it to become so routine and so filled with candy, eggs, and bunnies that we don’t take the time to really consider why it is so important. Easter is a time to remember and celebrate the new life that Christ offers us. But what does new life really mean?
New life can represent the eternal life that we receive when we choose to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. There is hope that after we pass from this life, there is new life that we will enter into – a better life where we will be fully in God’s presence and won’t experience any more pain or brokenness. But when Jesus speaks of new life, it doesn’t end there. It’s not just something that we enter into after we die. Jesus wants us to experience new life now.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Jesus invites us into a new way of living right here and now. Resurrection can happen now. God is in the business of making all things new, of healing what is broken, of restoring what has been lost, and of reviving what was dead.
This is not something that just happens once when we begin a relationship with Jesus. It’s an ongoing process. Once we’ve been following Jesus for a while, it’s easy to settle into patterns and to become complacent with where we’re at. But God wants to continue to renew us. He wants to continue to lead us into freedom and healing and restoration. He wants to continue to renew our minds as Romans 12 tells us.
So what is the new life that you are hoping for?
My husband and I talked about that question this weekend. I realized that the new way of living that I want to step into is one of security in who I am and what God has called me to. I don’t know want to waste my time looking around, wondering if others approve of the words I’m speaking or the way I am living my life. This does not mean a lack of concern for how I treat others or disregard for the wisdom that is shared with me. Rather, it is about seeking God’s Kingdom first, paying close attention to what God is speaking to me and the ways he is leading me, and then walking confidently down that path. It means that I don’t let fear stop me from boldly speaking truth or from being who I am. That sounds great, but it’s not easy and it’s not instantaneous.
Here’s the thing about new life: it requires dying to your old way of living first. That can be really hard. Jesus faced pain, rejection, and persecution on his journey to resurrection. He had to reject the desires to run away, to fight back, to protect himself, or to look out for only his own interests. He had to lay down his life along with all of the entitlements and privilege he had at his disposal.
If that is the way that our King died and the path he took to reach resurrection, we should not expect that we can experience the new life he offers us without also laying down our lives.
Jesus told his disciples, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)
This new life requires sacrifice. It requires that we let go of our desire to control, our need for approval, our craving for safety, and our longing to be superior. It means that we stop looking out to protect only our own interests and that we consider the needs of others. It means that we resist the temptations to insulate and to accumulate at the expense of the gospel. It means that we trust that when Jesus said to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, and to give to those in need that he actually knew the best way to live.
If I want to experience the freedom to be who God created me to be and do what God created me to do without worrying about what others think, I first have to lay down my desire for approval. I have to accept that there may be times that people judge me or reject me for the choices I make. I have to risk that I will be misunderstood and misrepresented at times. I have to be willing to step into conflict and know that it might be painful at times.
The new life that Jesus offers us is not easy. It is not safe. It is not comfortable. But it is good. It is so good. There is freedom, peace, love, and joy like you have never experienced before. And it is completely worth the sacrifice.
What is the new way of living that you hope for?
What do you need to lay down so that you might receive that new life?