Meet Tim. Tim is an upper-level executive for one of the world’s leading and fastest-growing technology corporations. Imagining the google-esque nature of his firm, one can imagine the innovation that is required for the highly cutthroat world of technology. The firm requires not only days, but many nights. The few nights that he has at home are spent brainstorming new ideas, troubleshooting current and potential problems. He doesn’t just bring work home, his work has become home.
Tim’s home situation is not one that most would define as ideal. His wife has been trying to communicate that the brokenness of the house and the distance growing between family members. In the past few months, the roof has begun to leak, and continues to leak. During the latest rain, one of the bedrooms flooded, and is now getting moldy. Their son, Austin, has quit trying in his studies, because his dad is not there to help him, and grades are suffering. Emily, their teenage daughter, has been off with boyfriend after boyfriend, seeking the attention that her father is not giving her. Oh, and to top it all off, the air conditioning went out today during 102-degree weather. As Tim is neither present through the day or the night, he is ignorant to all of the issues going on in his family’s life. Yet, because these issues belong to his family, they belong to him as well.
In all of this, Tim recognizes that as the new year approaches, he needs to spend less time focusing on work and more time focusing on family. He is approaching the typical understanding of a New Year’s resolution.
So much of what the world vies to do in the new year is just that, something new. For some it is creating a new body through dieting and going to the gym. For others it is creating a more vibrant lifestyle, to live life to the fullest it can be lived. Still, for some, it may be spending more time with family. To a shopaholic, it may be to spend less. To a workaholic, it may be to work less.
All of this is an attempt to do something: create a new identity. Our hopes for a new identity can come for many reasons, but they are mostly out of a sickness of complacency in our lives. We may grow complacent in many states, giving us reason to create a new identity and replace the old, unimpressive, complacent self with a new, vibrant, unexpected, impressive self. Tim was seeking to create a new husband and father in place of the old husband and father.
The idea is completely right! We do need a new self in place of the old self. Why? Because the old self is dead in sin (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1). The how is the problem. We do not create a new self by something new, but we create a new self by something old. At this point, you may be wondering, “What does something old have to do with creating something new?” That is what this next section seeks to answer.
What is this something old? This something old is not a relic. It is not a piece of wisdom. It is not a nugget of truth. It is the common nature of all humans, the image of God. As God created man and woman, He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26). This image is not simply physical, we are to reflect God mentally, morally, ethically, spiritually, and more. We function as mirrors, reflecting His nature. We are image-bearers. We are God’s very image.
This image was not lost, but distorted in the fall (Genesis 3). As we reflected God by love, it was distorted into hatred. As we reflected God in faith, it was distorted into distrust. Yet, hope was not all lost. We still reflected God in a desire to worship, even though it may not have been God. We still reflected God in the recognition of the divine, something beyond our limited, finite capacities.
The question still stands, how can Tim become a better husband and father with something old? Again, hope is not lost! The image may have been distorted, but it has not been lost. It may have been distorted, but it can be mended. Consider Paul’s words in the following passages:
“Take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be I in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Ephesians 4:20–24, CSB).
“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator” (Colossians 3:9–10, CSB).
We are renewed, not by bringing something new into the world, but by returning to something old, from the dawn of the creation of man, the image of God. It is when we return to this something old that we are made into a “new creation” and the old-self passes away while the new-self takes its place (2 Corinthians 5:17). All of this is possible by the blood of Christ, bringing us back into what has been lost, perfect relationship with God.
Tim can become a better husband and father though being renewed by the best family man of all time, the One who created the very institution of family: God. He can then learn what it is to be a better father and a better husband. It is by getting back to something old that he becomes someone new.
He now has gotten the house fixed. Austin is back into his studies better than before. Emily is loving the daddy-daughter date nights they are going on. His wife cannot relish enough the time that this family man is providing.
You Are Unique
Our resolutions tend to focus around the unique individual. We are all broken and all need to be renewed after the image of our creator, but we have different, unique situations as well.
Have you been renewed after something old, the image of the creator?
What is your unique situation?
How can this something old bring you to be someone new?
Enter this new year with something old.