I’ve been meditating the entire day on this one simple word. Behold. Heard a good sermon this morning at Compass Point, pastored by my friend Chris Elrod. Compass Point is going through a series on Baggage right now. I was going to write something about this last week, but lost my train of thought somewhere and figured it best not to write anything at all. Chris structured much of his sermon around 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therein lies that one little word that has been marinating in my soul all day.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; BEHOLD, the new has come. (emphasis mine) ESV version
Many of you, like me, have heard this verse countless times. Maybe you’re from a Restoration Movement background like me where you heard it in the NIV where the second line simply says ‘The old is gone, the new has come!” I think we’ve missed the richness of this verse by translating it the way that we do and replacing BEHOLD with an exclamation point. Behold gives the verse a new meaning for me. Let me expand upon the new meaning.
Today’s message was all about emotional baggage. If everyone is honest, they have tons of it. I’ve got tons of it. My wife has tons of it. Our friends that we took to church with us today have tons of it. Some of us carry baggage that isn’t even ours. A quick summation of the message is that if you’ve entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, all that crap doesn’t matter, so stop letting it matter and live in the fullness of life that Jesus has for you. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; BEHOLD. Ask a recovering drug addict who enters into relationship with Jesus if they beheld when the monkey was lifted off of their back. Ask a 75 year old who is dying of cancer and enters into a relationship with Jesus if they behold. Ask the ex-homosexual who is reunited with his wife and kids after meeting Jesus if he has beheld lately.
Why do I make this point? I ‘met Jesus’, as we sometimes say, in 1991. I’m not sure that I even knew what beholding was then and I think I just grasped the fullness of it today. I’m pretty sure that I became a worse person after the old was gone and the new had come. I’ve thought from time to time about my faith journey in relation to other’s faith journeys and I’m simply amazed at my own lack of beholding. Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize God’s work in my life. I’m amazed that He has chosen me to be in relationship with him and to complete his mission here on earth. But, when I look at some of the people around me and their level of beholding, I’m humbled and ashamed. I’ve been in relationship with Jesus for 17 years. That is more than half of my life. I’ve encountered people who met Jesus yesterday and have done more beholding than I have in my entire life. So, why do I say all of this?
The more I have read over this verse in 2 Corinthians, the more I have decided that the entire gospel is encapsulated in these few sentences. In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, YOU are a new creation. In Christ, WE are new creations. The old is gone. BEHOLD, the new has come. So then why in the world do we carry these bags with us wherever we go? Why as these new creations do we insist on taking the hurt, pain, embarrassment, screw-ups, addictions, etc along with us for the ride? If we really believe that we are new creations and that the old is gone, why in the heck does any of that old stuff need to be with us? Let me be frank. I think it is because all of that crap is a crutch. Jesse Ventura may think that religion is a crutch for the weak minded, but really I think all of the baggage is a crutch. We like to have something to hang onto when we blaze the new trail ahead of us. Chris talked a bit about this in his message today. He mentioned that we like to be identified by those things and that we aren’t happy unless everyone else knows about those bags we bring with us. It gives us some sort of sick and twisted false sense of security.
Here is my take and I’ll make it quick. We need to be doing more beholding. People who have a newer relationship with Jesus and people that have been through some crap have awesome beholding powers. We need to lay claim to the first part of this verse that we are NEW CREATIONS. We’re new. We’re not whatever our past says we are. We’re new. We’re free to start fresh. We get to call a do-over. We need to stop and behold the roses.
I’ll probably write some other thoughts on this as the week progresses. I’m headed to Orlando (20 miles away, haha) to a conference this week. If you’re there, let me know!