A Fresh Start versus A New Beginning

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

    Do you know what Friday is?  Yes, it’s the day after Thursday, but this week it is something much more.  This week, Friday is New Year’s Day.  It is the start of something fresh.  It is an opportunity to press the reset button on whatever it is that you want (or need) to reset.  And something about that reset button is so appealing.

    I couldn’t describe for you all of the reasons why I look forward to starting fresh again in January, but I do know that with every passing year, I seem to enjoy the New Year even more.  Do you share the same desire?  Why is that?  Could it be possible that the world is growing more and more performance driven, and the idea of a new calendar year gives me another opportunity to finally get it right?  Or, could it be that I’m merely blaming the “world” for something that is deeply embedded in my own heart?  Could it be that I struggle with performance, so I see the new year as an opportunity for me to get it right?

    The truth is, it is not wrong to want (or need) a fresh start.  It is not wrong to want (or need) to enter into a time of renewal.  Scripture is full of occasions in which God’s people have been called to renew their commitment to their Lord, to their family, or to their church.  So, there are some good reasons to reset (renew) this New Year, but I suppose my own motivations are based on some mixture of those good reasons along with my own performance issues.  As I ponder all of this, however, I begin to realize that maybe there is something deeper in my desire for the New Year…something so deep that I am not always fully aware of it.  Maybe my growing love for the New Year has less to do with a desire for a fresh start, and more to do with a longing for something entirely NEW.

    As I wrestle through this question, it is interesting for me to step back and consider the verses that the Lord keeps placing at the forefront of my heart.  One of those verses is Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Maybe the Lord is speaking to me this New Year through His Word.  Maybe His Word is adding clarity to the longings of my heart.  Maybe He is doing the same in you.

    Do you find yourself longing for a NEW beginning this New Year?  If so, can I try to add some clarity to that longing…a clarity that HE seems to be adding to me?  There is a big difference between a fresh start and a new beginning.  A fresh start gives you an opportunity to do better.  That sounds good, but the problem is that there will always be a measuring stick at the end of the year.  No matter how much better you do, there will always be room for improvement, which means there will always be a need for another “New Year.”  Any salesperson, whose production is measured from year to year knows this.

    A new beginning, at least a new beginning as defined in the gospel, is entirely different.  This kind of new beginning sets aside the past.  This gospel new beginning erases the need for measurement.  This new beginning separates the old completely.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Word of God tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”  This new beginning is possible because Jesus takes away our sin (past, present, and future) by taking it upon Himself.  This is the good news, that salvation is offered to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  That means Jesus grants this salvation freely, even though we don’t deserve it, and that we receive it simply by turning to Him in faith.

    Oh, and do you remember how the salesperson will have to go before the judge (his or her boss) this time next year to answer for his performance, only then to be told to do even better the next year.  There is no such annual performance review with Jesus.  On the cross He took it all.  Past.  Present.  Future.  He brings a NEW beginning…one that starts now, and will be completed in eternity with Him in heaven.

    Come to think of it, I am pretty sure my growing love of New Year has some of my performance issues wrapped up in it.  But, I’m also pretty sure that mixed in is a growing sense of longing.  I long for more of Jesus.  I long for the picture He is painting with my life to grow in beauty and clarity.  I long for Him to finish making all things new.  Until that time, I will celebrate the New Year, and try to remember He has already made me NEW.  Won’t you celebrate with me?