DayBreaks for 11/22/19: The Renewal of All Things
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:
As a general rule, I don’t like it when I have to renew my driver’s license, or my prescriptions, or my eyeglasses, or memberships to various organizations or subscriptions to magazines. I don’t like renewing things. I suppose there are several reasons for that: it implies that what I’ve got is older and not as up-to-date, and in fact, may be approaching the end of its useful life, which hints at the passing nature of all that exists in this world. It is also expensive to have to renew car licenses – among other things! Renewing stuff – bah humbug! That, however, is not true of all things. There are things that I don’t mind renewing at all: renewing my promises of love to my family and friends.
My truck has a bad power window on the driver side. I probably need a new window motor – but I’m thinking instead of getting a renewed one instead because it will probably be cheaper to get a refurbished one instead of a new one. I’m cheap. I’ll almost always take the cheapest route if I think it is worth the risk. But there is always that risk – that nagging suspicion that something that has been merely “renewed” is not as good as a brand new one. Usually that suspicion proves to be true. It is more costly to buy new things than to renew old ones.
We are “new creatures” – not just renewed ones – in Christ. And that was expensive. God wasn’t content to simply renew us – that wouldn’t be good enough. We needed to be made new through-and-through, not just renewed and spiffed up on the outside. We needed new hearts, new spirits, new life deep inside where the real “us” lives. Our old hearts, hearts of flesh and stone, could never be renewed enough – they needed transplanting entirely – we needed new ones. And God chooses to create that heart in us bit by bit. We probably couldn’t stand it if it happened all at once! We might not survive that experience!
We are, also, being ‘renewed’ day by day: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV) We are renewed in the sense that with the dawning of each new day we are reminded that God will provide the strength for that one day, the courage for facing whatever life brings our way, renewed in a sense of purpose and meaning. This is good renewal.
Here’s another one, from Matthew 19:28, where Jesus was describing his return to earth when he said, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne. The word for “renewal of all things” in Greek is palingenesis, used to describe the great conflagration after which history, having been purified, starts over. This was a radically new concept when Jesus applied it to himself. He was making the claim that his return would be accompanied by such power that even the material world and universe would be purged entirely of decay and brokenness. It would be a time, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, that “All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.”
At the end of the Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, the faithful hobbit friend of Frodo and Gandalf, discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as Sam thought he was) but very much alive. Sam cries out, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” Keller said: “The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”
Let us await with patience the renewal of all things – when all will be as glorious as the moment God first spoke things into existence – including us!
PRAYER: We groan as we await the fullness of completely new hearts and the renewal of Your creation, Lord. Teach us patience, fill us with trust, overflow our hearts with hope for the glorious future that awaits us as part of Your renewed creation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>