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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

How to Find the Renewal You Seek

by Jonathan Landry Cruse posted January 3, 2022

For many, the start of a new calendar year is a prime opportunity to begin again the quest for something newer and better in life. For some reason, we always think the grass is greener on the other side of December—an evident hold over of modernism, which held that all life can and will undergo an endless progression of growth and improvement. And even if there are notable exceptions—like 2020—the average person is convinced that something newer and greater is just around the corner. We only need to work a little harder to get it, or hope a little longer, or resolve a little better. We want what is new.

Are you after something new? Do you have that sense that things aren’t working in your life and you need a change? That’s a natural instinct for humans. We’re dissatisfied to be stuck with something old and run down. By and large, our money, efforts, and energy go into making things fresh, sleek, and improved—whether that’s through technology or cosmetology. I can’t keep up with which iteration of the iPhone we’re on now. And have you ever noticed how many songs on the radio are about staying “forever young”? Why do you think that is?

You Need to Be Renewed

Even though our society has capitalized on this discontentedness in many vain and sinful ways, at its heart this longing for newness is a good desire. It comes from how God has hardwired us at creation. The fall doesn’t sit right with us; we know something is off. We have an innate sense that things aren’t working here, that something is broken, and we want it fixed. We were never meant to be at home in the “old” but always to long for the “new” (see Rom. 8:22–23). And there will come a point where you have that sense, not only about the world, but about yourself! There will come a time when you realize—to your own dread—that you are broken, that something is wrong with you, and that you need to be renewed. The issue isn’t if that longing or desire is appropriate, the critical question is what we do with it.

You can find the renewal you seek through simple faith in Jesus Christ. This is the Bible’s message: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul doesn’t say that Christians might experience newness someday. He says that we arenew—right now! In one sense, we can abandon humanity’s collective search for something better over the horizon. Though we won’t fully experience it until Christ returns, the reality is that we have everything we could ever want or hope for right now. In him, the promise is not that we may be new, or will be new, but that we are new.

We Have a New Creation

The great trouble is that we so often and so quickly forget what’s true of us when we’re in Christ. If I remembered that I am permanently seated in the heavenly places with Jesus by faith, I wouldn’t expend so much energy and emotion trying to gain something I already have (Col. 3:1–4).

In fact, for Christians, what we have is infinitely greater than what we try to get, and what we are is infinitely greater than what we try to become. Paul doesn’t just say that we have a new thing. We have a new creation. He’s using end-times language and talking about the renewed cosmos, what the Bible calls elsewhere the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1). We belong to that whole new world now. And it’s no exaggeration to say that having this perspective will change everything for you. Knowing that the old has been put away means we will quit living like it hasn’t. When we remember who we are in Christ, we will start walking in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4)—which means less sin and more joy! Theologians call this sanctification: it’s the process and habit of claiming our citizenship now in the new creation kingdom. It’s living out the reality of being in Christ, who makes us new in him.

Remember Who You Are

So, how can you satisfy that longing for something better in this life? It’s not by buying a new car, or getting a new spouse, or getting another face lift or a sleeker gadget. It’s by getting a new heart. And if you have that heart, live like it. You are called saint, not sinner; child, not slave; pardoned, not condemned. Claim your identity in Christ.

Perhaps this could be your New Year’s resolution: Remember who you are. That might sound simpler than cutting out sugar, but it’s not. Steeping your heart in the Christian’s true identity will be harder and yet more rewarding and life-changing than anything else you could commit yourself to. Perhaps you could borrow the language of a young Jonathan Edwards, who at the age of 19 wrote 70 resolutions for his Christian life. Resolution 43 reads: “Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.”

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