“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”
C. S. Lewis
Right now, many of us are working hard to establish better habits, purging and prioritizing, and setting worthy goals with plans in place to reach them. Or, maybe you’re dusting off past ones that were shelved when the holidays rolled around. Personally, I like the way a brand new calendar gives rise to this longing for change and renewal. Through the gray of winter, it’s the wind in my sails! Are you part of the “new year, fresh start” camp? Whether you find a January re-set inspiring or deflating, I’ve got good news.
Today’s quote from C.S. Lewis is a reminder that for all the new beginnings I’ll ever face, I’m a new person! “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) For new beginnings, both big and small; for the ones I choose as well as those thrust upon me; for the ones that make sense and the ones we can’t seem to wrap our heads around. No matter what they look like, no matter the form they take, we can face them with confidence knowing in Him we’ve been given all that is needful to see them through. And like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly or the heart of a prodigal son turns toward home, our new identity is born of a radical exchange.
It began when Divine love took the shape of a manger. Condescension. Emptying. Stooping. Humbling. But why? To do in us what we could not do ourselves. For this Lamb without blemish, it meant separation from His Father. Silent suffering. Abandonment. Selfless obedience. Not just another social experiment or cultural movement, it wasn’t enough for Emmanuel to simply be a prophet or teacher helping us become better versions of our fallen natures. In order for Him to call us sons and daughters, we needed a rescuer, a Redeemer! The chasmal divide between holy and sinful had to be bridged. And there was only one way — Divine love must also take the shape of a cross. Just a few verses down from where we’ve been given this distinction as “new creatures”, one of the most astounding truths in all of Scripture jumps off the page. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) There it is — “the great exchange”*, as Jerry Bridges has called it. God’s righteousness for our sin. The ransom was paid, the relationship restored, and through faith we’ve been transformed! The good Shepherd sought and found us. Such good news for lost sheep like me and you!
Let’s be honest. Change can seem daunting. Different can be uncomfortable. The unknowns of a new year often fill us with a conflicted mixture of anticipation and anxiety. It’s o.k. He understands and invites us to a relationship of authenticity and dependence on Him. Let’s step into what lies ahead knowing who we are in Him, trusting in who He is, and confident He’ll continue His good work in us (Phil. 1:6). And, if at times the process seems painfully slow and January feels more like a cocoon than an open door, don’t lose heart. For every caterpillar turned butterfly, a chrysalis is just the beginning of a beautiful new life unfolding.
P. S. — The next little while is going to be unusually busy around here — our two daughters are getting married within a few months of each other. I might seem to go missing a bit, and instead of only posting new content, I think I’ll re-post some oldies you may not have read yet. Regardless, I pray you’ll be encouraged as you continue abiding in Him, picking up some good books, and filling your mind and heart with truth that replenishes. I’m so looking forward to this year of reading and writing and am anxious to see all the ways we’ll continue learning together, amazed by grace!
*“The Great Exchange” by Jerry Bridges