We are enthralled by the new. Many of us have crises whether to buy the latest digital device, recognizing that it will soon be updated, and, thus, outdated – no longer new. We are attracted by new methods for weight loss, relationships, anything that can give us some semblance of happiness.
Like many elements of the culture that we imbibe, this obsession with newness seeps into our spiritual lives.
I know this because I have seen it in my own life. For the last few months, I have been praying for a new experience of the Spirit’s presence in my life. While there is nothing bad about such prayer (indeed, I believe we ought to be asking for God’s presence), I realized that my motivations were more about “spicing up” my faith, than about coming to know and experience God better.
If you’ve ever been in such a place, you know what I’m talking about. The regular disciplines seem, well, regular. The prayer life seems a little dull. We think that all we need is a new infusion of life. A little injection of something out of the ordinary, something extra spiritual, something new.
Soon, we’ve slipped into idolizing the new, something of which I’m all too guilty.
In the Christian case, the new has already, in a definitive sense, occurred. The Christ event (by which I mean the incarnation-death-resurrection-ascension) is the ultimately new work of God in relationship to his creatures. In a real sense, our lives are simply an out working of allowing that old new-ness to break in.
It strikes us as paradoxical to consider something so old (2000 years old for that matter!) new, yet that is precisely the work of the Spirit. Taking that old new-ness and applying it to our lives. Transforming us from the old man to the new man. In other words, this is our sanctification.
Of course, that isn’t nearly as sexy as a new technique for hearing God’s voice or a new model for my quiet times, but it does remind me that the new is not up to me to invent or make a part of my life. God has already done the new work, in Christ, and I just get to be a part of it.
It goes against my cultural instincts, but it’s the path of Jesus, who says “follow me”, and when we slip doesn’t offer us new way of walking, but just says “follow me” again. And again. And again. May that never get old.