“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Cor. 5:17 NASB)
Newness: the mark of true change. I remember, some twenty-five years ago or more, when automobiles were actually low enough in cost to purchase one and drive it off the lot without believing that you had left several of one’s own appendages, children, and future generations behind with the salesman! Apart from the ever-increasing price of vehicles, there is nothing like the smell of the inside of a brand new car with the interweaving of the various scents of the components of the interior. Indeed, it is rumored that such a fragrance has been put into a spray form so that your personal mode of transportation can continue to maintain that special aroma. We have a particular appreciation for newness. To be new is to be different from the past. The Apostle Paul makes that clear here in the text, “the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”. This is not only true of the biblical marks of the authentic Christian life, to which he is referring specifically, but it is also indicative of a change of ministries whenever a new pastor comes on board and begins his work as God’s appointed shepherd of the flock. By nature, God will endeavor to use the new pastor in a different fashion than He did the one previously. Different does not denote better or worse. It simply means that the Lord, who is the Head of the Church, desires to lead this expression of His Church along the path of His will using a new perspective provided by this shepherd of His choosing. To be new, by definition, will bring changes. Paul in this passage stresses that, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature…new things have come”. In other words, the way we used to live, according to the world’s standards, following the culture’s lead, gauging our actions to the pleasure of those around us—these things are no longer to be the norm for us as Christians. Because of the reality of Jesus in our lives, we have changed and, therefore, how we are to live, act, think and behave has changed. We now are to operate by a new paradigm—the teachings of Christ, the Word of God. Thus, things we used to do without thinking because we were lost, now we should no longer do because of the potential negative impact they will have on others and because of my connection to Jesus and His kingdom. My guide for my actions is now whether or not God would truly be glorified by what I am doing since Scripture tells me in “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31 NASB). Change is implicit with such recourse. As it with us personally, so it is with God’s Church. In the bringing of a new pastor to lead His people, He intends to stir their hearts to greater growth and action. He does not desire us ever to become stagnant or content with our own spiritual well-being, but to constantly pursue Him toward maturity in our faith. This pursuit requires flexibility on our part and the acceptance of change as He, the master potter, continues to conform us into the image of His Son (rf. Rom. 8:29). He is simply using the new pastor and his ministry as one tool to accomplish that task (see Eph. 4:11-13). So, as we begin this new journey together as pastor and flock, know that your pastor has your best interests at heart. It is his desire to follow the Lord’s leadership in serving you so that the direction we go as a church will be under the guidance of His Holy Spirit and in accordance with His Word. He realizes that he will bring to the table differences from the pastors of the past simply because of who he is and how God has made him as a minister. However, no doubt together we will pursue the course God has planned for us, one that, by faith, will be, in His words, “a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11 NASB).