Addy tiptoed around the piles of junk strewn all over the floor. “This place is a mess,” she called to her dad. “I don’t know why you would want to live here!”
Dad grinned. “But this fixer-upper has so much potential, Addy! You have to look beyond the mess and see what each room could be like with some cleaning up and a little bit of paint!”
“A lot of paint, you mean!” said Mom as she came from the kitchen. “Did you see the color of the kitchen walls? Bright orange! I’d need to wear sunglasses just to cook dinner!”
Addy’s parents had been wanting to move out of the city, and this house seemed like a good fit. But Addy wasn’t sure she wanted to move into such an ugly house even though she would like having a small yard and space to ride her bike.
“Come take a look at this bedroom, Addy!” Dad said. “It could be yours to decorate however you wanted.”
Addy walked into the room and grimaced at the cobwebs and faded wallpaper. But then she started imagining the room painted in a pale purple with white curtains around the big window and her giant stuffed panda in the corner. Maybe she could like living here.
Addy’s parents decided to buy the house, and after several weeks of cleaning and painting, they were ready to move in. Addy couldn’t believe the transformation.
“This house looks amazing!” Addy told her parents as they were unpacking boxes. “I can’t believe how this ugly little house turned into something beautiful!”
“I know how you feel,” said Mom. “I never would have wanted to live in this house before we fixed it up. But now it looks warm and inviting.” She smiled at Addy. “It reminds me of how Jesus changes us. He takes our sinful, ugly hearts and transforms them by filling them with His love and joy. He makes each of us a new creation!”
Addy smiled. “Well, this house sure is a new creation, and I’m glad Jesus has made me a new creation too!”
There is no more beautiful description of the work that God has given Christians to do in the world than is found in Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that Christ has “given us the ministry of reconciliation.” True religion is always interested in the nature of man’s relationship with God. In the sense that every child has some kind of relationship with his or her parents, each and every one of us has some kind of relationship with God. It was God’s intention since creation for people to live in a relation of trust and obedience. But sin entered the world and created a hostility to God’s will and an estrangement from Him. Then God’s action through Christ was a reaching out in love to reestablish the relationship. When Paul had to define his ministry and ours, he took a phrase from the world of politics: “We are ambassadors for Christ.” In Paul’s world this metaphor would be clearly understood as describing the act of representing Christ in the Roman Empire. In verse 20 Paul is relating this to our role. We play that same role for the kingdom of God.
Paul was raised in a religious world that glorified in the deed and ignored the motive. in his relationship with Christ he realized that fear, guilt, a sense of duty or a desire to impress God or others were not good reasons for sharing the Gospel. The primary focus was on Christ’s love for us and not our love for Him. The belief that on the cross Christ acted on behalf of the human race became the basis for Paul’s thinking and actions.
Paul believed that on the cross sinful humanity was destroyed in principle and a new humanity was created. As Paul moved out into the cities of the then-known world to proclaim the Good News, there was a note of victory already won, a feeling that he knew the ultimate outcome. This passage from 2 Corinthians is filled with hope.
Paul was talking about an inner change that only God can make. It ties together our past, our present, and our future. Jesus didn’t come to help us overcome our sinful nature. He came to completely remove it so that we no longer have to be a slave to sin. We don’t need to change our circumstances or our surroundings. We need to change our hearts. Our hearts need a new birth, a spiritual transformation.
God took the sins of the world and on the cross piled them on the back of Jesus Christ, the one who had never committed a single sin. Because all of God’s wrath against us because of our rebellion was poured out on Jesus, God has no more anger left for us. He only has kindness, tolerance, and patience for us. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we gain His righteousness. That’s why when God sees us, He sees Jesus and His perfect character. Jesus took our punishment so that we might receive His righteousness. He identified with our sin through the cross so we could identify with His righteousness by faith in His redemption. Now we are clothed with His righteousness.
When we come to Jesus, we are a new creation, even if we don’t feel like a new creation. The moment we are born again, our old selves died and we became new people with the life and nature of God. Understanding our identity in Christ is vital to our success at living the Christian life. We can’t consistently behave in the way we see ourselves. If we think we are bums, chances are that we will live like bums. If we see ourselves as children of God who are spiritually alive in Christ we will live in victory and freedom as He lived. The two most important truths in our lives are knowledge of God and knowledge of who we are.
God won’t let us stay where we are. Once He touches our lives, we will never be the same. As a result of being a new creation, the world’s standard of judgment no longer applies. The key phrase “in Christ” is a favourite of Paul’s. This passage does not mean that in the moment of regeneration a person’s lusts, temptations, and carnal thoughts dissolve. In Christ the old has gone, in us those struggles rage on. But with the Spirit’s help, the Christian’s “practice” will align more with his or her position day by day until the Son returns and makes every believer whole.
God has no need to be reconciled to humanity, but humans have a desperate need to be reconciled to Him. The word “imputing” means “keeping track of, entering into the record.” Through the work of Christ, every believer’s record of sin is blotted out and he or she is reconciled to the Father. So instead of noting every believer’s sins and failures, as sin deserves, God throws out the ledger altogether.
In Christ we have received the great gift of grace. When I was doing the research for this message I found this little acrostic that will make it easier to share Christ with other people. It’s based on the letters G-R-A-C-E:
- “G” stands for the “Gift” of salvation. We have done nothing to earn God’s grace. It’s a gift.
- “R” stands for “Repentance.” To repent means to turn. In our sin, we were walking away from God, but then we turned from sin and began to follow Christ!
- “A” stands for “Almighty” God. We need to develop a relationship with Almighty God…the one who loves us and who has a wonderful plan for our lives.
- “C” stands for “Commitment.” We are called to live in a committed relationship with Jesus, the bridegroom. He died for us, He lives within us, and He’s coming again to receive us to himself!
- “E” stands for “Eternal” life. We receive the gift of eternal life by faith the moment we come to Christ!
If we don’t surrender to God, we will surrender to something else such as our moods, our circumstances, our fears, or our self-control concerns. If we do, we will end up becoming downcast and distraught.
We tend to see others through the eyes of the world. Christ has made us a new creation. If we believe that then with the new eyes Christ has given us we have to be open to seeing and accepting others. We have to put aside the old standards of social standing, race, wealth, etc. If we are in Christ we have a new existence in Christ.
Since Jesus no longer walks this earth in the flesh, His people are His ambassadors, speaking and acting on His behalf for those who do not know Him. Christians are His head (or the mind of Christ), hands (or the works of Christ), and heart (or the love of Christ) to those who need Him. Every day we have opportunities to show God’s love and compassion to others. We can meet their needs, bring them healing, and offer hope and encouragement. Every day we can sow good seeds into the lives of others that will reap an eternal harvest.
The greatest transaction in the history of the world occurred when Jesus (who knew no sin) exchanged His righteousness for humanity’s sin, taking it on Himself (becoming sin for us). He received what every person really deserved-death on a cross. By faith, sinners receive what He deserved-God’s acceptance and eternal life with Him.
Has Jesus transformed you from a fixer-upper into a new creation? He can change the ugliest heart full of selfishness and pride into a beautiful heart full of His love. Jesus makes us new creations from the inside out! Trust Him as your Savior and see the amazing work He does in you.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1606-1608)
- Chafin, K.L & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 30: 1,2 Corinthians (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1985; pp. 233-236)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Vikki Burke, “No Guilt, Inferiority, or Condemnation.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Neil Anderson, “A New Creature.” Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com/devotionals/dailyinchrist/
- Jerry Savelle, “You Are a New Creation.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Dr. Neil Anderson, “A Matthew of Being Someone.” Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com/devotionals/dailyinchrist/
- Dr. Jack Graham, “Songs of Encouragement.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joni Eareckson Tada, “God’s Anger.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Pastor Ed Young, “Trading Spaces-Rebel Trouble.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Ed Young, “Don’t Stay put.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Selwyn Hughes, “Talking with God All Night.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Dr. Jack Graham, “All in the Family.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joel Osteen, “You Are Somebody’s Miracle.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Kendra Angle, “The Fixer Upper.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jerry Savelle, “Righteous Means Righteous.” Retrieved form email@example.com
- Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 4th Sunday of Lent -C-, March 27, 2022.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org