Rest In The New Creation
This article appeared in the December 31st edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 12.29.09 By D. Eric Williams
Our emphasis at Cottonwood Community Church for 2010 is Rest In The New Creation.
In 2008 we stressed Cultivating The New Creation. As you may recall, one of the illustrations I used to explain this idea was my childhood experience of receiving a model airplane as a gift. I did nothing to merit receiving the model but I had to do something in order to enjoy it. Our salvation is like that. This is why Paul exhorts the Philippian Christians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). He is not telling them to try and procure salvation by works; he wants them to confirm their salvation by their works.
Our theme for 2009 was Manifesting The New Creation. This refers to our duty to outwardly demonstrate the rule of Jesus Christ. When we manifest the new creation we move beyond the more personal activity of cultivation. If we cultivate the new creation - assemble the gift of salvation - we should naturally demonstrate the reign of Jesus in our arena of activity. This is where the rubber meets the road. To be born again, and to demonstrate that, means our sphere of influence is visibly under the authority of Jesus. This doesn't happen all at once. Nonetheless, our progress in cultivating the new creation and visibly affirming Christ's authority can be objectively reckoned by the standard of the Holy Bible.
To rest in the new creation is to experience the peace of a confirmed covenant relationship with the Lord. Yet, the only way to experience confidence in our covenant relationship with God is to first cultivate and then manifest the new creation. Until we do so we will be spiritual infants, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). Thus rest depends upon prober cultivation and manifestation.
When we are at rest in the covenant, we find ourselves free to explore God's calling on our life. To rest in the new creation is to be at peace and to experience conditions favorable to creativity and productivity. It means we can blossom and be what God intends for us to be. It means stress falls way and we experience joy no matter what circumstance we face.
Although God rested after completing creation and Jesus rested after completing the new creation (Hebrews 4:10), their rest does not imply inaction (John 5:17). Instead, the Godhead is at rest in the finished "house" of the covenant relationship. But, like any house, it requires upkeep and cleaning. In the same fashion, our rest does not imply the conclusion of cultivating and manifesting the new creation. Rather, it means we participate in the rest of our Lord and like Him continue working. Therefore, we rest even as we cultivate and manifest the new creation. It is this trio of new creation characteristics that is attractive to those who are searching for meaning and purpose in this life. In other words, our witness to the world is at its best when we are at rest. (go here to listen to the December 27th 2009 sermon on this subject),
Like every year, 2010 promises to have its share of difficulty and turmoil. However, those who are at rest in the covenant can find peace in the midst of hardship. I will be returning to this subject in the weeks ahead. Until then, I encourage you to seek the rest and peace of the Lord that is available in the new creation.