Like many of you I’ll be trying (once again!) to get into shape in the new year. I’ve already got my gym membership—so no signing on fees necessary—but a new year does give me a chance to make a new start and forget my lacklustre progress of 2015!
In some ways there’s nothing special about 1st January—it’s just a day in the calendar after all. But somehow the start of a new year does seem to open up possibilities to do things differently and to leave the mistakes and hurts of the past behind.
Of course the Christian message is all about new starts.
On one occasion a religious leader came to Jesus and asked him how he could know that he had eternal life. Jesus’ answer: “You need a new start. You must be born again!” The man looked mystified. He was imagining his first natural birth and realising that however long how he spent at the gym and on a strict diet there was no way he could fit inside his mother’s womb again!
But Jesus was talking about a spiritual birth: a fresh start where we come to God in repentance and faith, and find that out of his mercy and grace, he forgives our failures and washes us clean. From that point on God is in the driving seat: He gently begins to rework our character so we are more like Jesus and as a result our lives start to head in a very different direction.
And as well as his total forgiveness, God offers us his perfect peace and his amazing life-transforming love. He makes us part of His spiritual family and gives us brothers and sisters in the church to support and encourage us. This new birth, becoming a Christian, gives us a new purpose in life, and the joy and peace that are ours last even in the darkest of times.
Like joining a gym we don’t need to be in perfect shape before we sign on the dotted line and make a new start. We can come to God exactly as we are, with all our struggles, hurts, failures, and wrong ideas. And gradually, as we get to know God and begin to walk with him, the master builder will remake us. We can come to God as we are but he never leaves us as we are.
In this month’s Grapevine, you’ll find Judy’s story about how coming to Jesus changed her life as well as a number of opportunities to consider the claims of Jesus for yourself. And at the start of a new year, what better time to think about Jesus for yourself. Happy New Year and may God bless you all