Chinese New Year celebrations are observed by Chinese families everywhere. These festivities are tied to the lunar calendar, usually falling somewhere in late January to mid-February. These times for family reunions come with many traditions—some of great significance. Buying and donning new clothes, giving our homes a good cleaning, and paying off outstanding debts remind us we’re putting the past behind and starting the year with a clean slate.
These traditions also remind me of our new life in Christ. No matter who we used to be or what we’ve done, we can put it all behind us. We can stop beating ourselves up over our past and let go of the guilt, knowing we’re completely forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. And we can start afresh, knowing we can rely on the Holy Spirit to daily transform us to be more like Jesus.
That’s why Paul reminds believers “the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We too can say this because of the simple but powerful truth: God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and no longer counts our sins against us (v. 19).
Others around us may not be willing to forget our past wrongdoing, but we can take heart that in God’s eyes we’re no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). As Paul points out, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31). Let’s enjoy the fresh start He’s given us through Jesus.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldlyl point of view.
Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
The old has gone, the new is here!o
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them.r
And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,s
as though God were making his appeal through us.t
We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.u
- How can you remind yourself that you’re fully forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross?
- How can you encourage new believers to start life afresh?
Paul’s critics had accused him of being out of his mind (2 Corinthians 5:13). Their insults probably hurt, but he wasn’t surprised. He knew he had a different way of thinking. His idea of good news was a resurrected Messiah King who conquered the world and rescued humanity by allowing Himself to be crucified. Paul admitted that embracing such thoughts led to a Christlike way of thinking that required living by faith rather than sight (5:7). And for Paul personally, it meant taking risks of love that meant sounding as if he’d lost his mind for the sake of his readers (11:23). Yet he took the chance of boasting of what he’d suffered in the love of Jesus so that his readers could answer those who took pride in “what is seen rather than in what is in the heart” (5:12; see also chs. 10–12).
Thank You, Jesus, for Your saving work on the cross that reconciles me to God and gives me a new life in You. In Your name, I pray. Amen!!