Then Sings My Soul

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Made for More

I was studying Paul’s letter to the Corinthians for an upcoming teaching opportunity and came across a relatable (and absolutely adorable) video online.

A large group of ducks contained by a hoarder since hatching had never seen or experienced water other than for drinking. Rescuers rehabilitated the birds and were excited to finally release them into a pond on their wildlife refuge.

The scene that followed was not what I expected. Rather than run to the water, the ducks avoided it at all costs. Rescuers surrounded the birds and literally forced them into the pond, but the ducks immediately jumped out and began to run away. They even tried picking the birds up and tossing them into the water, but without success – Until one precious duck let go of his fear and began to paddle and float for the very first time.

That duck flapped its wings in sheer joy – Splashing water everywhere and unabashedly celebrating the newfound splendor. I still giggle when I think about his head and body plunging in and out of the water for no other reason than to experience it. One by one, the other ducks followed suit and the pond became a spectacle of joyful birds diving, playing, and peacefully enjoying the water. The rescuers were elated.

The old was gone.

The new had come.

I can’t imagine those ducks ever wanting to return to the confines that kept them from true freedom only weeks before. They were beaming with new life after being caged and contained – Kept from the very essence of their intended creation – To swim, dive, splash, feed, float, and keep cool in the water.

But the process wasn’t easy. They did not immediately embrace the new life for which they were created.

 

Living New

The same can be true for us as followers of Christ, can’t it? I believe this is why Paul writes with such poignancy in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

To understand the complexity of Paul’s assertion in 2 Corinthians 5:17, we first need to understand the context of his exhortation.

Corinth was a hub of commerce, influence, wealth, and entertainment during Paul’s ministry in Greece. The temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility) stood at the center of this large city, and more than 1,000 sex slaves given by their owners lived on the temple steps and in brothels nearby.  

Corruption was rampant, and the church small by comparison. It’s no wonder Paul wrote to strengthen followers living in a city riddled with sexual exploitation and financial greed.

The church at the time was compiled of a few Jews, but mostly Gentiles. They would have been recent converts to the faith, and left everything they’d known for a completely different faith and lifestyle – something new and beyond anything they’d ever experienced.  In turning from the ways of their direct influence, surroundings, and maybe even friends and family, they needed encouragement to stay the new creations they were intended to be.  It was a death, of sorts, to completely change from the past and move into the future.

In our story of the ducks, Paul is the rescuer and the ducks like the Corinthians. They needed strong direction and encouragement to fully embrace their new life “in Christ”  – To die to the past and start fresh. If they were truly surrendered to the gospel, they needed old comforts to pass away.

The death and resurrection of Christ changed everything, but change does not always come without effort.

 

The Change

I used to hunt for Monarch butterfly larvae when my kids were little. We wandered through fields of milkweed and carefully turned up the leaves until we found one… A small little yellow worm-like creature less than an inch big.

I cleaned out salad tubs, filled them with milkweed plants and our growing larva. I poked holes in the lid to let in some air, and set the container on the floor in the living room to watch and wait. As the larva grew, she ate more and more of the milkweed – Chomping away until she grew fat and lethargic.  After seven to ten days of gorging, our fully grown larva found a sturdy spot under one of the leaves or on the top of the plastic container. She shed her now striped and colorful skin one last time and became a pupa – The beginning of a miraculous metamorphosis.

 

It was during this stage in our Monarch’s life cycle that we all became anxious. Would she survive the most complex part of her transformation? Would we see her emerge as the beautiful butterfly we knew she should be? It almost always seemed to take longer than it should, and we worried when the pupa turned from a bright and bold green to a dingy and dark brown.  

And then it happened. The pupa started to shake – convulse almost, as the outer shell/skin eased off a black and brown soggy entity.  She wasn’t beautiful right away, but as we patiently waited for her wings to dry and expand, our Monarch became everything she was created to be.

 

 

Just as it seemed death may overtake her, beauty emerged. She was completely new.

Transformed.

I took a video of our daughter releasing her very first Monarch. The butterfly we had watched and nurtured since it was a larva was too comfortable in our home and yard. She waited on Maya’s hand for what seemed like forever before finally leaving to embrace her purpose. I get chills when I think her first flight, just as I giggle when I remember seeing the duck’s first swim.

The old was gone.

The new had come.

 

When the Soul Sings

Our butterfly was no longer what she once was, but may not have realized the need for change in her larva stage. She didn’t know she was made for more until she took flight and left the comfort of our home and yard.

The ducks were much the same – Afraid to leave their dry, captive space for the pond.

We relish in the new only when we realize the decrepity of the old.

As followers of Christ, our soul sings for joy when we fully understand that Christ has atoned for our sins. His death and resurrection behold new life. The wretchedness of our past is exchanged for the glory of our future.

Leaving the old requires repenting of sin – Seeing it for what it is and humbly confessing with our heart. It means seeking wisdom of those more astute in faith and understanding of the Word. It means engaging our heart and mind in active pursuit of the Father.

It means looking back on the first created being – God-breathed into humanity and bearing His very image (Genesis 2) – And knowing that one day we will be that way again – Without sin or shame in the very presence of our Father (Revelation 21).

New life means we pursue sanctification and the suffering equated with being made holy.

It means we embrace the change rather than run from it.

It means we learn from it.

Find joy in it.

Dive in.

Splash around.

Soar freely.  

And let our souls sing with gratitude for the present and great expectation of what’s to come in the future.

So live.

Live as the new creation you were intended to be HERE and NOW, and look forward to the promise that one glorious day ALL THINGS will be made completely NEW (Revelation 21:5).

 

Digging Deeper

We’ve barely scratched the surface of this incredible portion of scripture. To understand it more fully in a way that helps you love and know God more deeply, consider working through the following questions and activities.  

  • Read Genesis 1. Observe verses 26-28 carefully.
    • How were man and woman created (Genesis 2:7)?
    • What were they created to do?
    • In whose image were male and female created, and what do you think this means?
    • What did God do to his newly created beings?
    • Apply what you’ve learned and consider what life for Adam and Eve would have been like – Walking and talking with God?
    • How does this apply to 2 Corinthians 5:17? Read all of 2 Corinthians 5 (and even more if you have time) to gain a better understanding.

 

  • Try using the one of the Bible Study Methods on our resource page to observe and apply 2 Corinthians 5:17 (link here).  Be sure to read it within the context of the larger passage and book. It’s a small verse, but life-changing!

 

  • Read and observe John 3:3-7.  What does it mean to be “born again,” and how does this relate to 2 Corinthians 5:17?

 

  • What of your old self needs to die in order for you embrace new life? After reflecting on this question, offer a prayer of humble confession.

 

  • Are you truly living new? What would this look like in your everyday life? What would the evidence of becoming a “new creature” be? How would you be able to tell?

 

  • After reading all of 2 Corinthians 5, what do you think it means to be in Christ?  

 

  • Learn more about what the Bible says about living as a new creation in the following scriptures.  After memorizing 2 Corinthians 5:17, see if you memorize some of these others!
    • John 3:3-7
    • John 10:10
    • Romans 8:11-12
    • Romans 6:4
    • John 1:13
    • Colossians 3:9
    • Ephesians 4:24

 

About the Author: Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.  She writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen.

Lisa is a teacher by trade and passion, voice for the marginalized, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, authenticity, and all things pretty. She enjoys thrift store shopping and often has to convince people she’s an introvert.  Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.  

 

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