One of my all-time favorite jokes is about the guy who was applying for a truck driver’s job. As part of the oral exam to pass the driving test, the instructor said, “Let’s say you and your sidekick Bob are going down a steep hill and all of a sudden your brakes go out, and at the bottom of the steep incline is a train stalled on the tracks. What would you do?”
The applicant replied, “I’d wake Bob up!”
Puzzled by his response, the instructor asked, “Why would you wake up Bob?”
“Well, me and Bob have traveled a lot of miles together and we have seen a lot of pretty spectacular wrecks, but Bob ain’t never seen a wreck like the wreck that’s going to happen at the bottom of the hill!”
This fallen, broken world we live in is a lot like a runaway truck without brakes—on its way to sure destruction. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be caught sleeping in the passenger seat of that truck!
Thankfully, Paul makes it very clear that Jesus provided a way of escape from this fallen, destined-for-destruction world order. When he told the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that old things are passed away, he was talking about the old world order that is headed for judgment. And Paul uses the past tense to assure us that the certain doom is already accomplished. Thankfully, Jesus has already paid the price to avert our riding this world’s 18-wheeler to disaster. It is historical fact, already accomplished for those who are in Christ.
What that means for those of us who are in Christ is that we are no longer in the death grip of the “old things”: All the dark seductions of our fallen world. All the lying and deceit. All the over-the-line sensuality and immorality. All the damage and despair caused by slavery to sin. This is all the old, outdated stuff that is marked for judgment and extinction.
Instead, we as His followers are part of a “new creation.” When Paul proclaimed the good news that “the new has come,” he used the perfect tense of the Greek language, indicating a past action with continuing results. In other words, there are ongoing ramifications of Jesus’ past action to save us. In the perfect tense, His past action is intended to continue to produce results; results that reflect the new order of a life in the grip of Jesus’ love. New stuff like honesty, purity, forgiveness, generosity, servanthood, faithfulness, and compassion for those who are sleeping in the passenger seat of the runaway truck. His process of making us into a new creation is ongoing, anchored in the historical bedrock of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That means that we as His followers are, in a sense, a “work in progress” looking more and more like His new creation all the time.
At the start of this new year, it’s a good time to ask if your life looks more like the old or more like the new. As a “new creation” in Jesus, what are the results in your life that clearly reflect His new way of living? Let’s wake up to the fact that we don’t belong to the darkness of this fallen world, and gladly embrace the new dynamics that God wants to create in our lives.
Live to make progress in the perfect tense of Christ’s finished work and make it a New Year that will be a lot more like the new and a lot less like the old.
- Can you say with confidence that you are you a new creation?
- What are some “old things” that still attract you to this fallen world? Confide in a friend who can help you take steps to avoid those pitfalls and can help you to keep on track with living in the perfect tense as a new creation.
- We are “works in progress.” If you were to receive a Progress Report, what would it say? Ask God to show you what results He has produced in your life and what things need some attention, and then ask Him to develop those things in your life this year.