2020. What a year. We’re not even finished yet. Maybe you, like me, have found yourself using words like “unprecedented” or “it’s never been like this” to describe your life right now. Before we rush to use these words and phrases, let’s pause. Is anything happening right now actually new?
The original iPhone was new. The iPhone model coming later this year is not new, only the latest. Something new is revolutionary. It changes the script entirely.
In our effort to understand today, and give words to our current moment, we need to recognize our place in history. Ecclesiastes says it well, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”
(1:9) Little of our current moment is unprecedented. 2020 is the latest episode in life under the sun.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Jesus is revolutionary.
The word “new” here in the Greek is literally “kainos”. It means “fresh, original, previously unknown”. Imagine the day you bought your favorite tshirt. On that day, it was new with respect to time. But the new here that Paul emphasizes is a newness that can include respect to quality as well as time. When you take our recently purchased shirt out of the bag, it’s fresh, and it’s collar isn’t stretched. The unstreched collar, the fresh smell, this is kainos.
Jesus’ work in our lives is unprecedented. Nothing before or after can compare. His salvation is a new work with respect to time, never before seen in history. (Romans 5:6) His salvation is also fresh and original in its quality. He replaces our sin with his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:20), He sends His Spirit to dwell in and with us (John 14:16), He unites us to Himself (1 Corinthians 12:27). This is unprecendented.
The world around us will continue to be marked by the same ills and injustices that mankind has perpetuated throughout our violent history. Here we have two choices. We can resign ourselves to the increasing chaos and just try to skirt by into eternity, or we can recognize Jesus’ salvation is revolutionary.
Rather than throw up our hands at the world around us and within us saying “it will always be this way”, we can draw fresh hope from God’s Spirit at work in us. Don’t give up. Lean in to the unprecedented work of God in our hearts, in our day.
This generation waits expectantly for an answer to this question: what good will our Good & Merciful King bring about in our day? We have every reason to expect and long for this, since He promised it. Jesus says it this way, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)