I have ranted before about how Fall is not my favourite season. Crisp air? Bah! The smell of rotting leaves and damp earth? To me Fall smells like wet dog; constantly. It has always reminded me of death. When Fall comes, all I can see is that: Sailing (for this year) is over, everything dies, you have to put the sailboat away, damp cold, you can’t go sailing, snow will be here soon etc. I have had a change of heart recently though and it all came from taking a moment to reflect.
At school today we went outside to pause and take in a bit of what God is up to. During morning devotional our group leader suggested that we look at our surroundings so I inspected a brilliantly red Japanese maple that grows in the centre of the Divinity College Campus. It’s leaves are ripe and come off cleanly in your hands if you gently tug on them. For the first time I saw why they were ready to drop. At the base of the stem is a bud – next year’s leaves!
This year’s leaves are showing some wear. They are worn and frayed. Fungus is growing on some of them. They have had their time in the sun and it is time for them to join the other leaves on the ground but what makes them fall is next year’s leaves.
While I hate saying goodbye to the fun I’m having now and the things I am familar with, tomorrow’s joys and delights will never come as long as today’s experiences are still here. Saying goodbye to the present brings new blessings closer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
I hate to get all ‘seminary student’ on you but the Greek tenses here are key. ‘The old has gone’ (Aorist past tense) the new has come (Perfect tense!). The Aorist is flat, featureless; it just is. The Perfect tense is vibrant, bold; Paul has no other verb tense with the vividness of the perfect tense. It has a continuous aspect: it is a past tense that is happening right now. It has already happened but has ongoing ramifications.
The old has gone; these leaves are dead. They are ready to be removed by the wind and rain but the new has already arrived; it’s here right now, just waiting to be uncovered, ready for spring.
Paul is saying here that our old selves are dead. As our old features, our old habits drop away they are being replaced by the new growth of Christ. Bright vivid new leaves will grow where split, cracked, and diseased ones once were.
I can say goodbye to today because God’s rich blessings in Jesus emerge out of the future into the present; into the ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ Kingdom of God.