Well, we made it to the new year! If you’re like me, you’ll write 2019 a few times before 2020 feels normal. And then, before you know it, it will be 2021.
In the last week we’ve heard lots about newness: new products, new hopes, new resolutions, new leaders, new diets, new relationships, new technology, and so on. But, in reality, there really isn’t much that’s new today, other than the change in the calendar. We can pretend that the new year is a big deal, but it’s pretty much a continuation of last year. Most things won’t be new, or at least not for long.
Contrast this with what God says in Revelation 21:5: “See, I am making all things new.” Not just the year. Not just the a few things around the edges of reality, but all things! Wow!
The context for God’s making everything new in Revelation 21:5 is the “new heaven” and “new earth” we read about in verse 1. The “first heaven” and “first earth” have “passed away” and the new is coming, by God’s power and grace.
Allow me to make three brief observations about God’s statement, “I am making all things new!” First, notice that God is making “all things” new. God is not obliterating all things and shooting our spirits into Heaven for eternity. Rather, God is renewing all things in earth and heaven, restoring them to what God had planned from the beginning. This is a powerful affirmation of the value of material world to God, who, after all, did once create it and call it “very good” (Gen 1:31). This world and all that is in it matters to God and will one day be renewed by God. Thus, we should be sure to value this world as God values it.
Second, the fact that God will one day make everything new reminds us that our world is in need of serious renewal. Things are broken, tarnished, dysfunctional, and badly in need of, not just repair, but complete renovation. We experience this regularly as a church family, whether the heater in Wylie Chapel breaks, or we receive a scary report from our doctor, or we see people living in tents because they can’t afford better lodging. So, while we value this world and all that is in it, we also recognize how messed up it is. Christians should be the last people on earth to be surprised when bad things happen, even to good people. We should expect injustice, even as we seek to do justice in this world (Micah 6:8). We should anticipate mourning, even as we get to rejoice in the midst of our sorrows.
Third, and finally, God is the one who makes everything new. By implication, only God can do this. You and I can’t. This ought to give us a fair measure of humility in our jobs, our families, our church, and our politics. Yet, the fact that God and God alone has the power to make all things new does not mean we are irrelevant or mere bystanders. God has chosen to make his renewing power available to us through Christ. Though we can’t fix the whole world, we can, by God’s strength and Spirit, be channels of God’s renewal in our slice of the world. God wants to work through you and me to bring greater wholeness to our workplaces, families, communities, schools, church, and country.
So, as we are even now forgetting our recent celebrations of the new year, may we never stop celebrating the One who makes all things new. May we rejoice in the fact that we get to experience a foretaste of this renewal in our lives today, and in the fact that God will use us as agents of renewal in this world.
Mark and his wife Linda are pleased to be part of our church family. Mark began at FPCH in 1963 and was once an associate pastor on our staff. He is now the Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary. He writes a daily email devotional called Life for Leaders. You can subscribe without cost by visiting https://lifeforleaders.depree.org/