Is it possible to make a new start?

The Christian faith teaches that a new start is endlessly possible.  It is provided by a personal encounter with the risen and living Jesus Christ.  He offers the opportunity and the resources to make a new start, despite all circumstances or failings.

The Bible records many encouraging examples of people who were able to start again after encountering Jesus.   These include a woman caught in adultery who was facing execution by an outraged community, a hated tax collector named Zacchaeus who had been collaborating with the enemy, and Peter, the close friend of Jesus who publicly disowned him.

God’s provision of a new start liberates people from the powerful hold that guilt, fear and memories of failure can have over a human.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus have made a way for humans to find God’s forgiveness.  A Christian is someone who has accepted God’s forgiveness and now has the freedom to reject the old habits of bitterness, anger or revenge, like disposing of a ‘shabby old coat’.  Many Christians experience this as such a new beginning that they describe it as feeling like a different kind of life.

Forgiveness, however, is not the same as perfection.  Although many Christians can look back to a specific time at which they made a decision to make a new start as a follower of the way of Jesus Christ, living up to a new way of being is an ongoing struggle.  There is a frequent need to revisit and remember the new start.  Church services almost always include a point at which worshippers are encouraged to think about recent failures, confess them, and ask for the mercy of God in absolute certainty that he will forgive.

The Bible describes God’s promises of mercy as ‘new every morning’.  It is in the gracious nature of God that mistakes and failures are not a stick to be beaten with, but an opportunity to change into something better.

What the Bible says about it

An extract from the Bible:

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come.

Where to find it:

2 Corinthians 5:17

About these words:

Paul, one of the leaders of the Christian church in the decades after the life of Jesus, wrote this in a letter to a church in Corinth.  He reminded them that the change that God brings to those who follow Jesus Christ is so profound that it is as if they become a new person.  They no longer have to be worn down by guilt, worry and fear of the future.

And they said…

The Leisure Society, from the 2010 album ‘Sleeper’:

The years have passed with such sickening speed,
The goalposts moved time and again,
Suppressing defeat, reinventing belief,
A casualty fit to move on.
If God did give me a choice I would take it, I would take it,
If God did give me a choice I would take it, I would take it.

Louise Fletcher Tarkington, North American poet:

I wish that there was some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.

Debbie Carroccio, North American writer:

Take advantage of [God’s] faithfulness and make every day a fresh start.  Resolve to make each day the beginning of a new year, a new morning, a new adventure.  He wipes the slate clean and goes back to zero so we can be filled up again with His Spirit and give it out all day long.  Enjoy the blessings of a new year, in Christ, one day at a time!

Charles (Chuck) Swindoll,  North American writer:

If you’re running a 26 mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one step at a time.  If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time.  If you’re trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time.  There are 365 days in the average year.  Divide any project by 365 and you’ll find that no job is all that intimidating.