A New Creation

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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A central theme of Paul’s writings can be summed up in two words: “new creation.” In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) The gospel is not about making nice people a little nicer, but about bringing new life to the human spirit.

The old state of things can be broken relationships not only with others but with oneself. We who are made in the image of God can turn that image upside down to make a real mess of things. Our attempts to restore ourselves inevitably bring moments when we realize new life will not emerge from “the strength of the human spirit.” To save ourselves, we must look for a power beyond ourselves.

My earliest mentor of the Christian faith was a remarkable woman by the name of Gert Behanna. Gert grew up in great wealth and attended the finest schools, but her life took many tragic turns: three divorces, alcoholism, and finally a failed attempt at suicide. This woman, who had never paid attention to the notion of God, opened her heart to the Spirit of new creation and found herself transformed. She wearied of people saying to her, “I wish I had your character,” because she could not claim it. She writes, “It doesn’t make sense to me that a woman of fifty-three should get down on her knees and twenty minutes later get up with character. Where had it been all that time? Something had been added all right, and we call him Jesus Christ.”

Gert published a best-selling book about her life, in 1957, entitled The Late Liz, and was besieged with requests to speak all over the country. When she was not speaking in churches, prisons, high schools, universities, and seminaries, she resided in my hometown of Kerrville, Texas. For a confused, angry, adolescent boy, Gert was just the right person to deal with questions of faith. But most real to me was the unmistakable work in this woman of Christ’s transforming Spirit.

When I read Paul’s words about dying and rising with Christ, I think of Gert and, on occasion, of my own life where I have entered the dark chambers of grief, broken relationships, and a diagnosis of cancer. Frederick Buechner claims we are to be “stewards of our pain,” meaning that we are to share our stories as honestly as Gert told her story, pointing to the One who created new life. This is hard, because we want to appear in control and “on top of things.” But the gospel is best heard through those who have been broken and know that the Creator continues to bring dead things to life.

Questions for discussion:

• Who has been a witness for you to the new creation in Christ?

• In what manner has the Spirit of new creation been evidenced in your life? In what areas of your life do you need to be made new?