The advertiser proclaims: “New Year. New you!” The phrase is used to sell us cream to smooth out wrinkles, diets to help us get trim, exercise regimes that enable us to become fitter, or new techniques to help us perform better.
The reality is more like: “New Year. Same you!” We may be pleased that our skin looks a bit better, that we can now wear a favourite item of clothing, run for the bus and recover before we need to get off again, or even have confidence to give an important presentation at work. But, if the truth were known, we behave in the same way and struggle to be the sort of person we really want to be, let alone the sort of person God wants us to be! Yet, with God, change is possible.
The Bible teaches us that there is one key relationship that changes us for good. This relationship also opens up the future to become the sort of person God wants us to be. Having described Jesus as being like light shining in a dark world, with many rejecting him, there is an amazing change in those who receive the light of Christ into their lives: ‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1v12-13).
Those who believe and trust in Jesus begin a new life and a real relationship with him. Such people have been given a new birth to become the children of God. It means we can speak to God as our Father in heaven. This new life is neither the result of being born into the right family or ethnic group, nor a reward for something we have done. It’s a gift that we don’t deserve. We are spiritually born as rebels, so new birth is a gift from the One who loves to give!
Those who have become God’s children are to accept his loving words of encouragement, instruction, discipline, correction and wisdom. We can’t live as we once did. We can become people who are being changed to be the sort of people God wants us to be. Can I invite you to explore the idea of saying: “New Year. Changed you!” as we come under the rule of Jesus? Now that would make this year something special!