Thursday, July 28, 2011

New is better than Old

"New is better than old."

Sounds like something car salesmen and guys at the Genuis Bar would say to anyone walking in the door.

This statement is often debated inside the crowded parameters of my cranium. The debate is very similar to the much anticipated political debates which occur every four years. It's not similar in the fact that one silver-haired, middle-aged man in a suit passionately talks crap about one or two other middle-aged men in suits. No, my brain is not that large. It is similar in the fact that when the dust settles, nothing has been settled.

When I try to figure out if new is better than old, it comes down to my pride. I think old cars are better than new ones because I have an old car. I would say that the old way my hometown was is better than this new town I hardly recognize. My new hairstyle is much different than the look I sported in junior high, leaving me longing for the days of old. The new technology with cell phones continues to blow my mind, hoping to never remember the old designs. New perspectives challenge my old ways of thinking. My old job was more demanding physically, but my new job challenges me mentally. Old friends are easier to talk to than that new "friend" in the elevator. New socks smell better than old socks, but I still like to feel the crunch between my toes.

So, basically I have decided it's a draw.

New is sometimes better than old.
Old is sometimes better than new.

But this is not the case when it comes to the fuel for life - spirituality - God decides the outcome of my internal argument. There's no room for discussion. He has the final say and it's better than anything I could come up with anyway.

There's no passage in the Bible where Yahweh says "New is better than old" but He spoke through a couple of dudes who wrote some stuff down for people looking for a right way of living. These two guys were the kind of guys you would remember after hearing words come out of their mouth. Passionate like those politicians. Isaiah and Paul clearly communicate the reality that new is better than old.

After ranting for about forty pages, Isaiah pours out his heart to the Lord. He acknowledges the rebelliousness of his people - a group of folks that God was especially passionate about - a rebelliousness that would break the heartiest of hearts. In the midst of this reality check (ch. 64 of Isaiah) he points out how God prefers new rather than old.

To do this, Isaiah uses an analogy that has stuck out to me for a while now. In Isaiah's words, "But now, O Lord, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8) If you've never seen the artistry of a potter at work, let me tell you, it's obvious that when using clay, new is better than old.

Now Paul is a different story. In his little letter to some friends in Phillipi, he pours his heart out too. Instead of admitting how horrible he had been, he tells the truth which consists of a really good report card in religiousness. If getting into the gates of heaven were a matter of what we did, Paul would be first in line, having come from a past of near perfection.

It is right after recognizing how awesome he is that Paul writes this, "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14) Even after having been the best of the best, Paul sees that his old way of life won't even compare the new life with Christ.

The new life is made possible through Jesus' death and resurrection. By taking the punishment for our sin on the cross, He paid the penalty that we all deserve. Three days after dying, Jesus walked the streets of Galilee with His closest friends. His new life had some scars, but they allow us to move on from our old life.

So, where are you landing today?

Are you content with the old life that sin has shaped?
Are you looking forward to new life lived with Christ?

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