16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: Take a moment and look at the picture of the butterfly and its surroundings. Consider the cocoons around it. Cocoons can be a nurturing, growing place. The caterpillar enters into the cocoon as something different than it will be. As it abides in the cocoon it develops, it changes, in an environment completely perfected for its transformation. The cocoon provides safety and the elements necessary for growth and change. And yet, the cocoon can only serve its purpose for a short season. Before long, the cocoon becomes a barrier between the newly developed butterfly and the freedom of the world and sky around it. To truly be who it has become, the butterfly must leave its comfort and exercise its freedom in the same world from which it retreated as a caterpillar. God gives us the safety and nurturing environment of times apart in communion and grace. And still God is calling us into the world to exercise our freedom in Christ and to spread our wings of grace. How might you find that time this week in the cocoon of God’s love and grace? What needs transformation, renewal, and grace this week in you? How might allowing God to give you space and time for renewal change the way you live in this world? Receive the gift of time apart in communion with God. Be made new. Bear the grace of renewal in the world, offering it freely to your brothers and sisters.
Prayer Focus: Think of those who might need a new experience of re-creation in their lives: war-fatigued refugees, addicts, mistreated children, men and women suffering from broken relationships, those suffering from loss, and God’s children who feel lost and disconnected from God. Perhaps a specific person comes to mind, or perhaps a specific people group. Perhaps it is you who needs re-creation. As you lift them (or you) up before God, imagine God forming a cocoon of grace around them (or you). As they abide in that place, picture the compassion, mercy, and healing power of God weaving strands of love and peace around them. Sit with that image as you ask God to give them the space, time, and divine communion they need to heal. Envision the light of Christ begin to break open the cocoon of grace and to expose the beloved child of God to the world of redemption and renewal awaiting them. God uses prayer to make all things new.
Meditation Focus: Focus your mind on the words old and new. What are the old practices and attitudes residing in you that affirm the work and love of Christ? What are the old practices and attitudes residing in you that are in conflict with the work and love of Christ? Envision those Christ-like characteristics increasing in size and importance within you until they fill your whole being; envision those characteristics in opposition to Christ decrease in size and importance within you until they fade away. When Christ fills your whole self, you will become new, refreshed, reinvigorated, and more connected to the holiness of God. How will this newness play out in your day-to-day life? Imagine yourself in a situation in which you have found it challenging to be Christ-like, when the old self has come out in opposition to Christ. How might that you experience that situation differently when you imagine your whole self filled with Christ and his character? Play the renewed situation out in your mind. Be filled wholly with Christ and let the old man or woman experience renewal.
Journaling Focus: Reflect on your personal and spiritual growth from the beginning of your journey of discipleship to Jesus Christ until now. Write a letter to your former self, detailing to him or her how God has moved in you through grace, love, and compassion over the years. What works of God have you witnessed? What new connections have you made with others in Christ? How has God used you to further the reach of the Kingdom? As you write, share your hopes of how God might work in you and in the world around you in the years to come. Give personal expression to these strong words of the beautiful hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.
Breath Prayer: Father, make me (us) new.