ONE of the most potent terms in the English language may be the word new. Mark some product or program ``new'' and you immediately grab people's attention. Yet what's called new surely isn't always. Still, people keep reaching out for what we think is new. So much of this quest for newness delivers not newness but merely something other or different. How can we sort it out? We don't want to be fooled but we do want to find the genuine newness, which is rightly valued by the human heart.
The Bible asks: ``Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.''1 The writer of Ecclesiastes was wise in his insight that much of human experience is essentially the same thing repeated in different forms. Whether you travel by car, train, or plane, for example, you are in the same place once you arrive. Whether I type this editorial using the latest computer program (as I am) or draft it in longhand doesn't basically affect the message itself. Valuable as the medium is, newness isn't produced by the medium but by the thought.
What we obviously most need is not ``new'' externals but changed and inspired thought. But how can we possibly get it? We can't get it, but we can find ourselves expressing it as we learn more of God as the one and only Spirit. The lives of those who were later termed Christians -- those who first followed Christ Jesus -- had been radically changed by Jesus' teachings about God. The Master insisted they could and they must be born again. To a great extent they must have felt this happening, felt themselves being shaped by everything they were learning of divine Spirit and of man as the child of this Spirit, made in the image of God, his Father. They acted like new men and women. They became strongly committed to this new sense of living.
Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, makes explicit a point that is easily missed, however: looking for the refreshingly new while holding on to the old convictions about material life and circumstances is bound to lead off in the wrong direction. But to learn of divine Spirit, which pervades all life and being, changes our viewpoint and keeps it changed. We look toward every bit of spiritual light and goodness as indicative of the very nature and reality of the spiritual man and universe. Paul described it this way: ``If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.''2
Among other things that are made new is the typical human viewpoint of thinking in terms of what we can do or want to do. This becomes far less important than what we see God doing with us and with His creation. We are inevitably included in and embraced by what God is giving. We ourselves -- as we are willing to be born of Spirit -- have this quality of unending newness.
Mrs. Eddy writes, ``He to whom `the arm of the Lord' is revealed will believe our report, and rise into newness of life with regeneration.''3 To take the reality of Spirit, God, as fully present is to follow Christ. It is a very demanding way of life. But we are changed if we live it. As Paul so graphically urges, ``Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.''4 Who isn't more than ready to be a new -- and newly leavened -- ``lump''?
1Ecclesiastes 1:10. 2II Corinthians 5:17. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 24. 4I Corinthians 5:7.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the January 1 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.