By Rob Tims
I love new.
New car smell. New clothes. New books. New construction. New bed sheets. New episodes. New babies. New underwear (after I take the cardboard out).
I love new.
Except when I love old.
Old books. Old leather briefcases. Old photographs. Old underwear.
Sometimes I buy new things that look old, like a pair of jeans with holes.
Sometimes I buy old things that are new, like a vintage album.
Clearly I have personal preferences when it comes to desiring something old and something new, and these personal preferences carry over into my spiritual life. Oftentimes, I am very eager to embrace the new things Jesus has for me, but other times I am reluctant to let go of the old … the old, familiar thoughts and behaviors I’ve grown to love about myself throughout the years. Though my old thoughts and habits are incompatible with the new me, I hesitate to say goodbye.
Yet there are three old things that, no matter what, I have to part with if I’m going to follow Jesus.
1. My Old Identity.
Before Jesus, I found my identity in what I acquired. A wife. Children. Employment. Book sales. Page views. But Jesus is clear that there is no identity to be found there. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? (Mark 8:36). So if I’m going to identify as a Christ-follower, I can no longer identity according to anything I’ve gained or acquired—these acquisitions may be good, but they are temporary.
2. My Old Agenda.
When Jesus first explained to his disciples the nature of his Messiahship in Mark 8, Peter pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him. Peter had a completely different agenda for Jesus. Jesus’ disciple wanted a militaristic, political revolutionary that would make his country great again. But Jesus was to be a suffering servant who would make a whole new kingdom from people of every tribe and tongue. Likewise, I often have my own agenda for my life and want to use Jesus to get it. But Jesus is not a means to a higher end. I can’t be a Jesus follower and harbor a different agenda from His will.
3. My Old Hope.
Before Jesus, the best I could hope for was my best life now. But as a follower of Jesus, I exchanged my best for His best—a harmonious, joyous life in eternity. To be sure, the Holy Spirit is at work in me now, and my life is far better as a result. Yet this is only a taste of the power of the kingdom of God that will fully manifest itself in Jesus’ return. As a follower of Jesus, I’ve exchanged my old hope for a comfortable life for the new hope of life in Christ for eternity.
It’s not always easy to let go of the old and replace it with the new, especially things like our identity or our agenda or the things that we place our hope in. Yet when we see Jesus for who he really is, the new looks better and better all the time.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.