2 Corinthians 5:16–17 (NASB95)
16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
A while ago, a friend of mine invited me to a simulcast of a debate between Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Ken Ham the head of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Science Museum, and the new full-sized Noah’s Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. I am usually not very interested in this kind of thing, so I did not attend. Then, I saw that the debate was posted on YouTube and decided to watch it out of curiosity. While it was an interesting debate between evolution and intelligent design, it was also predictable. Both sides had logical reasons why their point of view was correct based on the assumptions arising from their particular worldview with neither conceding the points of the other. One point in particular that Ken Ham made that I have heard before and always found compelling was the fact that evolutionists in all of their research have never produced a single observable instance in which a species has become more than what it already was. Since evolution is based on the premise of simple organisms become more complex, I think I would have a hard time buying evolution even if I did not believe in the biblical account of creation.
What this debate did do was that it got me thinking about the evolution of a believer. You see, I am actually a huge believer in the evolution of mankind. Yet, this evolution is not a physical transformation but a spiritual one. When we placed our trust in Christ, God didn’t just forgive us of our sin, He fundamentally changed us. This change is so significant that we are called a “new creature” or a “new creation” (NIV). The idea here is God creating something completely new that has never existed before. We are not the same person that we were nor are we some refurbished version of ourselves. We have evolved into something brand new. The old version of us died and was buried with Christ (Romans 6:4), and now we live a brand new life.
The problem is that we are still in these old, broken down bodies (“the flesh”) that have been corrupted by sin and are perishing. That makes it easy for us to see each other as normal ordinary humans. Yet, at one time, Paul and his original readers made that same mistake with Jesus. He looked like an ordinary human, but He was the very Son of God inside of a very ordinary shell. Paul urges us to not make that mistake when we look at other believers or look in the mirror. If we believe that nothing much has changed, then we will live as if nothing much has changed, and we will maintain similarly low expectations for others in the body of Christ. If we believe that we are a new creation “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24) and view fellow believers this way, we could really become the “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20) that we were created to be. The teaching pastor at my church growing up used to say, “The Christian life is about becoming outwardly who we have already been made inwardly.”
May we look past our exteriors and see the amazing work of transformation that God has accomplished in each of us. May we always be striving to become and help others become outwardly who God has already made us inwardly and treat each other with the respect and expectation of a life that has been so radically and spontaneously evolved.