Often the closer we are to something, the less clearly we see it. We might go on holiday to a beautiful island paradise only to find that the locals take the sunshine, the palm trees and the gentle pace for granted. It’s not uncommon for Parisian or Roman taxi drivers to consider the Arc de Triomphe or the Colosseum as mere traffic islands to be negotiated with difficulty at rush hour. We tend not to appreciate the wonders around us when we see them every day.
The same can be true for Christians who live cheek by jowl with their faith. We can end up downsizing the importance of what we believe because we package it into sound-bites such as “God is love” or “Love your neighbour as yourself”. And if our faith and religion is reduced to maxims then it has to compete with all other political, commercial and recreational claims on our time and talent. And thus it becomes relativised.
So Christianity is in danger of being seen as just one way of spending our spare time, along with party politics, sport, caravanning, bird-watching or knitting. And we get sucked into thinking that tolerance demands of us that we make no greater claim for our faith than we do about our hobbies and our interests. After all, it would be indecent to make a lot of noise about our faith, wouldn’t it? Especially if faith is a private thing.
But Christians don’t think like that. We don’t consider our belief in Jesus Christ to be a take-it-or-leave-it affair. It’s not merely like being a member of a wine club or a social networking group. For Christians, faith in Jesus is massive; it is the single most important factor in our lives because it determines who we are and how we behave. To be a Christian is not simply a “nice” thing; it’s totally consuming because it informs every aspect of our living and breathing.
In today’s scripture God says, “Now I am making the whole of creation new”. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. The old order is wiped away, death and evil have lost their power to keep us held captive, and we are offered a radically new and eternal life that has already begun now and that will come to fulfilment the other side of the grave. There is nothing “same-old” about our Christian faith. It’s something that can transform the whole of creation.