Devotional: January 21, 2021
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.
Second Corinthians 5: 16-18 The Message
So often, people are evaluated by what they have, or how they look. Yet the Apostle Paul is adamant that these externals are not what is most important. He points to the fact that because Jesus was born to poor parents, the world paid little attention to him. Boy, did the world get that one wrong!
Not only that, but Jesus was raised in Nazareth. In Jesus’ day, Nazareth was quite small, with less than 500 people. Not only that, it was not adjacent to any major cities. One scholar hypothesizes that in biblical times, talking about someone as an inhabitant of Nazareth was equivalent to calling them a “bumpkin”, or a “hillbilly.” Imagine that! Such a critical attitude towards a small town off the beaten path may have been the origin of Nathaniel’s comment to his friend Philip in the New Testament, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1: 46)
Paul teaches us that what matters most is what is inside of a person. I love the way in which the Message translation makes this point more clearly than many other translations. After all, we certainly cannot change where we were born, or our height, or our racial heritage. It’s what’s on the inside that matters most of all.
When we encounter Jesus the Messiah, He changes us. Our Lord makes us a new creation when he comes to live in our hearts. Inviting Christ into our lives results in our outside actions changing as well. He takes away the blackness of sin within us, removing it completely with His gracious forgiveness. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” That is God’s promise to make all things new.
Paul knows the life-changing power of God firsthand, as the Lord touched his life in a dramatic way. Through an encounter on the road to Damascus, the Lord changed Paul from a persecutor of Christians, into one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all time.
God can, and does, make all things news:
Where are you longing for the Lord to make all things new in your life?
In our community?
In our nation?
In the world?
This passage ends by reminding us that as we are made anew, it becomes possible for us to renew and rebuild our interpersonal relationships with one another. A new world begins with new personal relationships founded upon individual spiritual renewal… Therefore, pray for God to make all things new, starting with each and every one of us. With Christ, all things are possible. With Christ, we can take the first step towards lasting and positive change, by allowing Him to change us… for the better!
One song which builds on this theme of Christ renewing us is “Spirit of the Living God.” Here is a version which may inspire you… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldiW0JqaHQg
Spirit of the Living God Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me Melt me, mold me Fill me, use me Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me Spirit of the living God Fall afresh on me Melt me, mold me Fill me, use me Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me Spirit of the living ... www.youtube.com
Eternal Lord, You alone can change me from the inside out. Thank You for offering me a better way to live my life. Forgive me when I stray from Your ways. Change me, mold me, fill me, and use me. Help me to “walk the talk,” showing others who You truly are. May my words and my actions match Your plans for my life. I pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen.