He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Revelation 21:5

 

A Gingerbread cookie marking the new year 2017.

Happy New Year!

Today is New Year’s Day, the first day of 2017. We’ll hear lots today about newness: new hopes, new resolutions, new leaders, new diets, new relationships, new technology, and so on. But, in fact, there really isn’t much that’s new today, other than the change in the calendar. (And I was just getting used to writing 2016!) We can pretend that the new year is a big deal, but, in reality, it’s pretty much a continuation of last year. Most things won’t be new, or at least not for long.

Contrast this with what God says in Revelation 21:5: “I am making everything new!” Not just the year. Not just the a few things around the edges of reality, but everything! All things new! Wow!

The context for God’s making everything new in Revelation 21:5 is the “new heaven” and “new earth” we read about in verse 1. The “first heaven” and “first earth” have “passed away” and the new is coming, by God’s power and grace.

Allow me to make three brief observations about God’s statement, “I am making everything new!” First, notice that God is making “everything” new. God is not obliterating all things and shooting our souls into Heaven for eternity. Rather, God is renewing all things in earth and heaven, restoring them to what God had planned from the beginning. This is a powerful affirmation of the value of material things to God, who, after all, did once create them and regard them as “very good” (Gen 1:31). This world and all that is in it matters to God and will one day be renewed by God. Thus, we should be sure to value this world as God values it.

Second, the fact that God will one day make everything new reminds us that our world is in need of serious renewal. Things are broken, tarnished, dysfunctional, and badly in need of, not just repair, but complete renovation. So, while we value this world and all that is in it, we also recognize how messed up it is. Christians should be the last people on earth to be surprised when bad things happen, even to good people. We should expect injustice, even as we seek to do justice in this world (Micah 6:8). We should anticipate mourning, even as we get to rejoice in the midst of our sorrows.

Third, and finally, God is the one who is making everything new. By implication, only God can do this. You and I can’t. This ought to give us a fair measure of humility, in our jobs, our families, our churches, and our politics. Yet, the fact that God and God alone has the power to make all things new does not mean we are irrelevant or mere bystanders. God has chosen to make his renewing power available to us through Christ. Though we can’t fix the world, we can, by God’s strength and Spirit, be channels of God’s renewal in our slice of the world. God wants to work through you and me to bring greater wholeness to our workplaces, families, communities, schools, churches, and countries.

On this day in which we celebrate a new year, may we ever more celebrate the one who will make all things new. And may we rejoice in the fact that we get to experience a foretaste of this renewal in our lives today, and in the fact that God will use us as agents of renewal in this world.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Why do you think God chooses to make everything new, rather than obliterating this broken universe and starting all over again?

In what ways have you experienced the renewing power of God in your life? How about in 2016?

In what ways would you like to experience God’s renewal in 2017?

How might God use you as an agent of renewal in 2017?

PRAYER:

Gracious God, indeed, you are the one who will one day make everything new. You alone have the power to do this. You alone have the desire to do this.

Thank you, Lord, for not abandoning us and our world. Thank you for making your renewing presence known, even now, however incompletely.

Thank you also for choosing to use us as agents of renewal. May we be available to you for this crucial task. May you use us to bring your wholeness to the broken places of our lives: our work and our family, our community and our church, our nation and our world.

All praise be to you, O God, because you are making all things new! Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary.
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