I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for just about anything new, especially new technology – phones, computers, tools, software, whatever, if it’s new, I’m interested. The only thing that really keeps me from living on the “bleeding edge” of technology and being an obsessive early adopter is the mind-boggling price tag. Fortunately, because of my overwhelming desire to have the latest and greatest and the harsh reality of economics, it takes me so long to identify the sweet spot between the best gadget and the best price that I often miss the newest and end up with version 2.0 instead of 3.0 – but a guy can dream, right?
I suppose that’s the appeal of “the new,” having the dream. There’s something about having a glimpse of the future or at least what the future could be that not only eases the angst of change and the restrictions of cost but encourages an active pursuit of something new. The last restraint, for many, is being tied to the past.
I’m not sure who said it first or best, but change will not happen until the discomfort of staying the same becomes greater than the discomfort of making the change. In other words, as appealing as the promise of something new might be, most folks won’t actually pursue it until it becomes unbearable not to change. For example, even though I’ve lived a lifetime of desiring better health and its benefits, I never really changed my lifestyle until the discomfort of having poor health outweighed (ha!) the discomfort of making changes.
Certainly, we know that the something new isn’t always best, maybe not even better. Think about where all our problems began: back in the Garden when the Serpent tricked Adam and Eve into pursuing something new that turned out to be the absolute worst. How did he tempt them? He called God’s Word into question and painted a false image of the future. From that moment on, the tension between the past and the future, what we’ve got and what we could have, has been at the heart of our struggle with God.
The Good News is that God is the God of something new. When God’s people Israel were struggling, again, with faith and obedience and the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience, again, God promised, again, that they could have new life if they would put their faith in him and follow him in obedience. He said, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18, 19). While the new thing God was doing in that moment for Israel was rescue from oppression and exile, God was preparing something new for all people of all time, another rescue and a whole new life. Paul tells us about this new thing God has done and is doing through Jesus. He writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Even though the contrast between our old life and the new life God promises through Jesus is Good News, there’s still the struggle of change. We get an idea of that struggle in (Hebrews 12:1, 2):
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In Hebrews 11, the writer reminds us of the lives of so many of those people in the Bible, the “Faith Hall of Fame,” those who struggled against sin and its consequences in order to pursue and receive new life from God through their faith. We know all too well how our sin and the sin of others hinders and entangles us, how difficult it can be to deal with sin, but the promise of the joys of new life from Jesus, who also endured the suffering of sin – our sin – on the cross, helps us to throw it off and pursue new life from God.
Certainly, there’s discomfort, maybe even outright pain, in pursuing something new and making changes, but the dream, the hope, the promise of new life from God is certainly worth the cost. Praise God! Jesus has paid the cost. Now let’s make the change.