Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Being a New Creation

Modern man is stuck in a crisis of self-awareness and autonomy.  Who am I?  What do I do?  How do I act?  We value independence, we cherish (especially in the US) our ability to choose, make decisions, to make a difference.  No longer are we content to merely let a star be born, but must call into the TV show and vote on the next star.

Me, me, me - my choice, my decision.

Consider - rhetorically "choice" is the modern equal of "life" -- for what is life if you do not have choice, do not have self-determination.  Thus the modern mind.

This is the same thing we saw in the garden.  This is the first and oldest sin - I will choose, I will act, and I will be like God.  That's the sinful though and thrust.

And this desire creeps in even into the Church.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, Gospel is nice -- but now tell me what *I* must do, how *I* should act, what choices *I* need to make so that I can be like Jesus.

We so desperately want to be in charge -- we are no longer content to simply be creatures.  We are no longer content to be God's creation.

But that's the thing.  Think about how often Paul talks about being a new creation -- that is a statement over and against my desire to self-determine myself.  Who am I?  I am what God has created me to be.  I am passive and receptive. 

I am a husband, not because I CHOOSE to be one, but because I have been joined to my wife by God.(passive)
I am a father, not because I CHOOSE to be one, but because I have been given children by God (passive)
I'm a pastor, not because I CHOOSE to be one, but because I have been called and ordained (passive)
I am a Christian, not because I CHOOSE to be one, but because God has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (passive).

I am baptized into Christ.  Everything flows from there.  All my action comes from what Christ has done for me and to me.

It is as David says, "O LORD, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise."  Again - it's not me doing, it's not me starting.  I'm not the decisive factor.  I am what God makes me to be.  And it is truly much better that way.

The art of the Christian faith is being taught over and over that God is in control, not you.
It is being taught that God's Will shall be done, not mine.
It is receiving Christ's forgiveness and love and life -- which the flow out through me.

I am a new creation.  God grant that by daily contrition (from God) and repentance (from God) that my old Adam that wants to be in charge may be drowned and die (hey, that's passive) and that daily a new might arise (again, passive).  I receive forgiveness in the Supper, the Body and Blood of Christ that was shed for me - and with it I am given life (which I live) and salvation.

I am a new creation in Christ.  I am not what I determine myself to be - I am what He makes me to be.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, pastor, for outlining the difference between our culture's emphasis on personal identification via choice and our identity in Christ.

the Old Adam said...

In Steven Paulson's new book titled, "Lutheran Theology", he says that "free-will is the instrument of God's wrath".

Our will is not the answer to the problem…it IS the problem!

Mike Baker said...

Good post. We stand between two opposing ideologies: individualism and communitarianism.

The truth is in the tension between the two extremes. It is not popular in this world, but it is the scriptural view.