New Person

New Person

Article by Devon Accardi
Wow…I didn’t yell…

I had heard the crash and ran to the kitchen to find Cash, one of my four-year-old twin sons, staring at the mess at his feet. The evidence was everywhere. A mission of espionage gone wrong. He had attempted to open our pantry doors and climb the shelves in order to secure his target: a cereal bar for which a request had already been made, and I had denied since we had wrapped up lunch thirty minutes earlier. The shelf collapsed under his weight and sent him falling. Food was strewn everywhere. He had deliberately disobeyed me. But… Wow… I didn’t yell.

Perhaps you are wondering why I was so surprised at my response. The truth is that not yelling has historically not been my automatic response, especially in situations like this one. In fact, overreaction in anger with volume has been a struggle of mine for a while as a parent. I’m sure there are legitimate roots I can trace for the cause of this. Growing up, my house was loud, and my dad was the loudest. With his fiery Italian temper, I never felt unsafe, but his corrective discipline was never unclear. In 2020, COVID gave us a great deal of unexpected time at home with just our family. It became more evident to me that the roots of my anger were more than just genetic. Something more was at work. I began to pay more attention to my responses. I started talking to Erin, my wife, more about it. I began seeing a counselor who, among other dear friends and over a long period of time, came alongside me in a journey to trace the root source of my anger. The details of that journey are too much and too long for this article (feel free to ask me sometime, though). However, at that moment, with my son on the floor crying out of both injury and guilt, my response was not harshness but tenderness. And I noticed. God was doing a new thing.

If you’ve been around Fellowship Church much of these last six months, you have heard us using the language of how God makes us a New Person. It is a theological truth. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul gives us the profound promise that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” That means, well, exactly what it says: If you have put your faith in Jesus, you are a NEW PERSON. It doesn’t mean that you are just an improved version of who you were. It doesn’t mean that you get a clean slate, and now the work begins of never gaining another blemish on your record.

What it means is that the moment you put your faith in Christ - the very moment - you are instantly and infinitely new. Forever, because of Jesus’ mercy and love, you are made right with God. It is the gospel - the good news: You were dead, now you are alive

But then…I yell.
I get angry.
I doubt or lie or hate.
I judge, covet, and argue.
What does that mean? Did it not work? Did grace not take hold?

In John 11, Jesus is standing at the open tomb of Lazarus. He has come to the grave of his friend, albeit much later than Mary and Martha wished He had. He has grieved with them, He has wept with them, He has been led by them to the burial place, and He has commanded the stone to be rolled away. And now He stands peering into the darkness of his dear friend’s death bed.
Then He bellows His command into the belly of the tomb: “Lazarus, come out!” And out walks Lazarus. Death to life. A New Person, indeed.

However, John continues with an important detail: “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” - John 11:44
Lazarus was alive, but he was not free. He still was bound with the clothes he had been buried in. Jesus had raised him but still needed to unbind him.

The process of God making us a New Person is a mysterious one. On the one hand, the moment Jesus calls us to life with Him, we are made fully alive. On the other, the process of Him unraveling our grave clothes so that we might be set free is one that will take a lifetime. And both are God’s great joy.

So, what about you? Are there places in your life where you can clearly see that God is setting you free? Forming you? Making you a New Person?
For me, it took a crying kid and a mess on the floor to realize that God had begun moving my heart. His work is by no means complete. There are still moments that I catch both my anger and my voice rising. But He is changing me. I can tell. He is making me new. He is making us new. He is unbinding us from our grave clothes. Just like He promised He would. Until the day that we see Him face to face and are finally fully alive.

Devon Accardi

Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries
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