The theme of renewal is central to the Greek Scriptures, known by Christians as the New Testament. The author of the Epistle to the Ephesians writes that the readers and listeners of the letter should “lay aside the old self,” and “be renewed in the spirit of [their] mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24, New American Standard Bible). Christ Jesus talked to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again. Others, like Zacchaeus, experienced a moral rebirth because of Jesus. And of course, Jesus embodied the concept of rebirth in his resurrection.
A fundamental truth about identity undergirds and supports such spiritual renewal: Identity is not biological, organic, or material, but purely spiritual, holy, existing perfectly and eternally within the Mind that is God. Existing in the sacredness of God’s presence, true individuality never wears out, is self-renewing and fresh, and can never be rendered imperfect. Thus, instead of the individual being a human mind and body, subject to depletion, aging, or burnout, he or she is ever fresh, an expression of evergreen Life, God, and of His goodness.
In Psalms we read, “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (2:7). Mary Baker Eddy wrote, referring to “man” as the true identity of each of us: “This Mind [God] … is not subject to growth, change, or diminution, but is the divine intelligence, or Principle, of all real being; holding man forever in the rhythmic round of unfolding bliss, as a living witness to and perpetual idea of inexhaustible good” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 82–83).
The Old and New Testaments promise a renewal that goes far beyond a freshening up of a human sense of things. When the Bible says, “Behold, I [God] make all things new” (Revelation 21:5), this is not “I make all things new until they get old again.” Rather, it’s “I make all things new eternally.” This indicates not just a change in passing circumstances but an actual going higher in consciousness, a permanent, bright, spiritual view that can never be darkened.
Why should there be renewal? Isn’t things getting old a normal part of nature, including us and the world around us?
The writings of Paul point to a cosmic shift with the resurrection of Jesus. The consciousness of life as limited, degenerating, selfish, and subject to aging would now have no place in human affairs. The natural world itself was to be transformed and renewed permanently (see Romans 8:18–25).
How does this cosmic shift play out in individual human experience? Renewal happens as we become better persons, more selfless, loving, charitable, and generous toward ourselves and others. We can constantly exhibit more of such qualities, because they are not personal attributes; they exist infinitely and inexhaustibly in divine Love, which is the one true source of our being and character.
In truth, the only possible time for renewal is this moment.
Renewal happens, too, as we recognize false qualities of thought as being no part of our real being as children of God. It can require steadfastness and selflessness to root out thoughtlessness, egoism, and hate as no part of us. But such qualities are by their very nature destined to become old, recognized as undesirable and illegitimate, and to fade away, because they have no fundamental Principle—no infinitely good God who could have created them.
A friend once shared with me a fresh way of thinking of the Revelation passage, “Behold, I make all things new.” The insight was to think of the passage as, “Behold, I make all things now.” In truth, the only possible time for renewal is this moment. Only at this instant, not at some regretful point in the past nor even at some point in the future, can we rededicate our lives to the God who is unopposed divine Love. Only at this moment can we abandon the belief that we are separated from God and subject to discord. Only now can we claim our highest possible calling—that of being the perfect spiritual individuality that God has created us to be.
A close friend, who has now passed on, inspired me because of his capacity to experience renewal. When his marriage ended in divorce, he almost immediately picked himself up from sadness, was grateful for the good that he had experienced in that marriage, and began being open to new and fresh ways of living. In a short time he met another woman in an unusual way, and they soon married. They were very compatible and a great help to each other in their work. Some years later, my friend’s wife passed on. My friend, again, grateful for the good that he had experienced, stayed open to new ways to express God and serve others. Shortly thereafter he met another woman, with whom he shared a happy, productive marriage. They were totally in love and shared a sense of elevated purpose and fun. Through all these different experiences my friend never stopped being grateful and expectant of good and expressing his love toward God and others in new ways.
The spiritual discipline of allowing God, infinite Spirit, to renew us and make us new now is surely a lifelong task. And as we are renewed, we bring that fresh, free consciousness to everyone. In this way we contribute to the permanent renewal of those around us and of the wider world.
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