Stand Out. Stand up. Don't Stand Down

Happy New Year!!

New Year, New you - Am I right?

New Year’s slogans, resolutions. and goals. We hear them every year, especially the “new year, new you” slogan. Sounds great right? If only it were that easy.

What ACTUALLY happens is we come into the new year like straight fire and after a few weeks end up feeling more like burger king foot lettuce (this is for you meme folks out there). More apt, we set our resolutions for the year and our “new you” quickly starts to feel like a Jekyll & Hyde situation. Remember, Dr. Jekyll was the held together and respected scientist while Mr. Hyde was a grotesque, amoral monstrosity - a mockery of the “good” doctor. What actually happens in the classic story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is that one man lives a torturous double life - appearing to be put together on the surface and completely empty of any dignity or character on the inside. What people tend to overlook in the story is that Dr. Jekyll is in control when he is acting as Mr. Hyde. The despicably careless actions, thoughts, desires, etc. of Mr. Hyde are not caused by some chemical, potion, magical transformation or uncontrollable second person syndrome. The actions of Mr. Hyde are the true desires of Dr. Jekyll finally lived out when he feels he is safe to live them.

more on the misunderstandings of the Jekyll and Hyde story (there is a cool parallel to our situation as sinful humans lead by a Holy spirit)

What does this have to do with New Year’s? Well, the only way we can actually ever achieve a “new you” situation is by giving up our pursuit of perfecting ourselves and turning our lives over to Christ

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Happy New Year! The old has gone, the new is here! Don’t live that torturous double life where you are one person at church and another at school, one person at camp and another at your friends house on the weekend. Jesus gives us that true opportunity to start over in our character, purpose, achievements, desires, focus, pursuits, etc. The newness of life that we seek in New Year’s resolutions can only actually be found in Jesus by the transforming work of His power in our lives. He, Jesus, makes the “new you”. We do not have the power to accomplish a true transformation.

Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

It is our relationship with Jesus, and the work that He accomplishes in our lives that transforms us from a twisted Jekyll & Hyde existence to a child of God existence. Jesus takes us from what we are and transforms us to be what God originally created us to be. If you want a new you this New Year, you need to look to Jesus and become more like Jesus. What does that look like? I thought you might ask!

Do Not Love the World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

But MAAATTTTT… what about John 3:16 - For God so loved the world? Yes, John 3:16 says that, but the context also makes clear that the word world used there is discussing the whole of humanity and not the physical products, philosophies, and ways of life of the world. You see, Jesus transforms us so that we can be different from the world.

We, like Israel (God’s chosen people") were called out of the world, to stand out from the world, by standing up to the world, rather than standing down at the command of the world. Jesus calls us to walk away from ALL (remember that everything from the “Jesus is Enough” post???) that is in the world. We are changed, transformed, to no longer love those things. We are transformed to seek Jesus over the “desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. “ Jesus challenges us here to adopt a drastically changed life.

I know, you are in high school and college - the best years of your life! That is a lie, but we believe that lie when we are in the moment. We feel like we have to have that “high-school experience” or the “college experience” (you know what I mean - parties, dabbling in alcohol or drugs, etc. just to experience what it is like). We treat it like it is some sort of right of passage. We pursue it out of a desire to bring that newness to our lives, while missing out on that true transforming work of Jesus that we can never hope to accomplish on our own by pursuing the things of this world.

The “new you” we are looking for, that Jesus provides, is far harder to achieve than any worldly resolution, goal, or ambition that you have. No human achievement can hope to touch the value, power, and scope of the transforming work that takes place through Jesus’ efforts and our continuing to follow after Him. And this experience Jesus offers freely to us so that we can see and experience that abundant life which is so fulfilling the world is tasteless and dry in comparison.

At this New Year have the resolve to give up your pursuits and pride of life. Resolve to walk away from the things in the world. Resolve to place your life in Jesus hands and be transformed to the “new you” in Christ which you were always intended to be!

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Scripture and Resources

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Romans 12:2

1 John 2:15-17

More on the misunderstandings of the Jekyll and Hyde story