“Identity: You’re A New Creation”
Rev. Mark M. Norman Vickers
Sunday, June 14, 2015 - Third Sunday of Pentecost
St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church
Wouldn’t it be great, to wake-up every morning, get out of bed and look in the mirror and see a new, revitalized and younger you? Wouldn’t that be great? Every morning, born a new, into a new creation of being a new you! Putting away the old, never having to look at it again and moving into something new. Or would it be good?
As I read over this text the past several weeks something kept gnawing at my mind about what the Apostle Paul was really trying to say in this text. What type of newness is he (Paul) concerned about in this text?
You know, we live in a “make-over” generation. People in general are obsessed with make-overs. From body parts, to car parts, to houses. People are making a mint off of shows that demonstrate the art of make-over possibilities! So what is the fascination of being made-over? Many psychologists and educators believe the reason behind the “make-over obsession” is that we are having trouble grappling with the aging process. We are a generation of “newbies”, we want to be made new in order to evade the process of getting older, and we trade in the old for the new. We have become stuck in the perpetual decline of failing to embrace what is natural in the order of life.
Paul in his words to the church at Corinth reminds them and us that in the midst of trials and tribulations a “newness” is possible when we invited Christ into our lives and allow him to make us a new creation from the inside out. If we allow Him to subtract all our anxieties, doubts, and fears it becomes somewhat of an “internal” make-over, as opposed to the “total” make-over of the physical self, body nature, and outward appearance in hopes of being someone new. Now the church at Corinth, along with the church of the 21st Century is still struggling with this today!! This is a hard concept to understand and receive. You see, most of us want the outward and visible change so people know we are different than we were before. Taken in stride, the outward and visible appearance change is okay, but what Paul is concerned about is the internal change, the “new you” inside, not so much on the physical outside. You see Paul was dealing with a group of people who had influenced Corinth known as the Gnostics. The Gnostics were a spiritual and religious people, but their emphasis was on the “sarx” or “the flesh”, all things were tied into the work and care of the physical self. They understood the need for God, but they were hung up on the obsession of the flesh.
In v. 16, Paul says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view” in the Greek, “no one according to the flesh”! The body! Just as they had known Christ in that fleshly way, we no longer see Him in that fashion. Paul is very clear here on the inner transformation of the self in that Jesus is far more than just the fleshly, crucified, body that hung on the cross. It is the inner knowledge and transformation that truly affects our identity. It is that movement of faith and love that is extremely important in our disciple making mode!
Paul was having a remotely “rough” time in navigating the Church at Corinth. He was bombarded by people who were in love with the flesh, with the physical part of life and they in turn were struggling with grasping the inward transformation message that Paul was trying to convey to them.
The major difficulty the Corinthians were having was belief!! How could they believe such a thing? How could they believe that this inner transformation was as important as the physical or better yet, more important than the physical? How could they believe such a thing? Paul simply explained to them, only through faith!! They had difficulty in comprehending what a great relationship they could have with Christ if they just believed. The problem for them was the unknown! They were struggling to understand how this inward transformation would take place. The Corinthians were a lot like us! They fear the unknown! The young Corinthian church was trying to navigate the unknown and the change was difficult. We know it’s a challenge that has been faced by Christians for centuries, old and new, fear of what we cannot see, and in turn, we doubt what we cannot see. Think for a minute to maybe one of those “make-over” shows you have seen. Think about the fear and trepidation that the person or persons feels before they see the final product? They have great anxiety I’m sure for some part of it, yet at the same time, we have to learn to place our trust in what we cannot see. Paul perceives and writes of that new reality, that new creation, that new identity and urges us as believers to move toward that new creation.
Paul continually reminds us that God has given us all we need to experience that inner transformation- “faith and love”, a love that compels us into the unknown. Paul’s central message is the new message of the Gospel, Christ died for all, for those that live, no longer live for themselves. Often times we hear the Gospel proclaimed as a salvation tool only. Paul in his unique way is urging us to hear the Gospel as an announcement of love. A love that has changed the world, a love that continues to change the world, a love that takes the people who found themselves loved and transformed them in order that they live in a renewed, “re-made” fashion. A “new-made” fashion that is embodied in Christ.
It therefore becomes a purpose of ours, to live in and as that “new creation” which God through Jesus has given us.
As I think back on the “make-over” shows I have seen, often times people are still skeptical with the outcome they see. The uniqueness of this Gospel transformation and make-over into a new creation is that it is continually working. It is not a “finished” product. It is a continual make-over, day in and day out.
That my friends, is Good News!! Because God has already blessed the final product, it is up to us, to live and work in that inner transformation in order that the final product continues to be better and better.
My friends, you are a new creation, you are ones with a new identity, for that be glad and rejoice and continue to make –over your newness in Christ.
AMEN and AMEN.