Garry preached at the family service, talking about new and old. Sometimes it’s really good to get new things (think of Christmas presents, new technology and the smell of a new car) and most people enjoy getting new gadgets, but some people hate change and find it difficult to adapt to new things. The marketing industry constantly promotes new things, but it is interesting to note that people’s reactions to the same events can be very different: in Ezra 3:10-13 TNIV we see how the people’s reaction to the rebuilding of the foundations of the temple differed greatly (some shouted for joy, whilst others wept.) Nonetheless, sometimes just because something is new or has changed does not make it automatically superior: the Israelites in Egypt found it hard when the new king no longer remembered Joseph (Ex 1:1-8 TNIV) because their new circumstances were much worse than their old ones! Sometimes, however, these adverse circumstances are necessary before we can experience His good plans.
As we look at our society, we see many changes. The overall standard of living has risen and what were once considered luxuries are now commonplace (cars, holidays abroad etc.), with many deadly illnesses such as scarlet fever or diptheria now less serious. In other areas, such as morality or crime, we may feel things are decaying and getting worse. What matters, however, is that we understand that God is always doing new things and wants to give us all a fresh start. This happens when we become Christians (2 Cor 5:17 TNIV) and God gives us a new heart (Ezek 36:26 TNIV), but we need to see this as the start of the new work God begins in us. Eph 4:11-15 TNIV reminds us of God’s goal for our lives, namely to grow into the full measure of the fulness of Chirst.
Change will mean leaving some things behind, for we outgrow some things and challenges continue to abound. We need to be ready for the new things that God wants to do. Each time we overcome one challenge, God has another challenge for us which is slightly harder! Garry used the analogy of a toddler who finds our birthday box quite hard to climb over initially, but who will master this as he grows. (Ironically, Garry then tripped over the box at the end of the sermon, somewhat ruining his point that we progress to greater challenges!) God has new challenges for us all, some of which may well launch us into the unknown and be frightening. Nonetheless, the only unchanging thing in life is God Himself; He is always doing a new thing. We need to be prepared to exchange the comfort of the old for the challenge of the new and enter the New Year confident in the new things that God has planned for us.