Can we start over?
Wouldn’t it be nice to just start over sometimes? That’s what the hope of a new year brings. New Year’s resolutions, the hope of changed habits, better relationships. But is it really possible?
As we begin the new year it’s sobering to reflect on the last year. There were plenty of regrets. Plenty of sadness, evil and pain. And some massive changes in Australian society. Here are just a few things from 2017:
- Kim Jong Un tested nuclear missiles
- The deadliest mass-shooting in modern US history at a music festival in Las Vegas
- Melbourne pedestrians run down outside Flinders St station
- Australia voted to change the traditional and God-given definition of marriage
And as we reflect on our own lives, there are plenty of regrets aren’t there? Harsh words spoken. Cold shoulders. Anger expressed in unhealthy ways. Arguments that left us exhausted, deflated and full of shame.
Wouldn’t it liberating to just start again?
To forget the past?
To wipe the slate clean and have a fresh start?
But this is exactly what God offers us when we come to him!
God promises in the Old Testament that a time is coming where he will offer a fresh start to his people:
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbour,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord,
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34
Relationship with God will no longer be based on their performance, but on God’s forgiveness. He will wipe the slate clean and remember their sins no more. He doesn’t want us to remember and hold on to the shame of our past, but to have the freedom of a fresh start.
Again he says,
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:15-19).
Sometimes the future seems so bleak because we feel trapped by the past and overwhelmed by shame. But God is offering to do something new in our lives. As new as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Again in the New Testament God shows the complete forgiveness Jesus has won for us:
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. – Hebrews 10:11-14
We want to keep trying to make up for our mistakes by trying to do good things. But none of our efforts can take away our sins – and they don’t have to! Jesus’ death has made them history once and for all. As the passage goes on to say, ‘And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.’ – Hebrews 10:18
God wants us to forget the past and have new life through his forgiveness. How wonderful and freeing is his love! This is what gives us hope and joy for the future. This is what gives hope in the midst of conflict. His love changes us and enables us to forgive us others and remember their sins no more! This is what gives us hope for restored relationships in the future. God is creating a people who actively confess and forgive one another – in PeaceWise terms, he is making us peacemakers, using us to create a Culture of Peace wherever we are – because he is the great Peacemaker.
It’s with this hope that we wish you a blessed and peace-filled 2018!