How to Make a Fresh Start in Christ
- Candice Lucey Contributing Writer
- 2022 19 May
Becoming a Christian is an act of letting go of the old self and embracing the new. It means death to the flesh and resurrection in the Spirit with Christ. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
No matter what age you were when you became a Christian, you made a fresh start that day. But there are also ways we can do that again and again — not get saved over and over, but get our feet washed.
Washing Our Feet
Jesus told Peter, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10).
Christ made at least two points in John 13 — his followers will serve others just as he has served you, and you need to confess and repent regularly, but your salvation is secure once you have been washed in the blood of Christ.
That doesn’t mean we literally get our feet bathed, although that’s not a bad idea, another way of remembering.
Or you could simply read this piece of Scripture for a reminder that your fresh start is available every time you genuinely confess and repent, for his mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23). “Justification occurs once for all time, yet confessing sin and receiving forgiveness is ongoing until we are glorified and sin no more,” wrote Stephen J. Wellum.
A Fresh Start and Servanthood
Christ would reach the lowest lows of servanthood, giving his life to obey the Father and to reunite us with our Father also. He would then rise up in the grandest, most important “fresh start” imaginable: resurrection.
Baptism is a picture of this. A foot bath reminds us of baptism, but we don’t get baptized every time we mess up and ask God to forgive us.
We need to freshen up; to remember what Christ did for us and also the commitments that were made: Christ had promised we would be saved, and we promised to follow him and love him.
To really understand John 13, I think Jesus wants us to see how repentance and forgiveness are tied to servanthood. He combined those two images on purpose: how should we connect them in our personal walk with Christ?
Perhaps I don’t really get a picture of salvation, of who my Savior is, of what he truly did for me, unless I see that:
1. My fresh start is in the resurrection in Christ.
2. I received the Holy Spirit, the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3).
3. Christ gave up his status as King.
4. This means I give up my earthly status and earthly values to become a new vessel filled with new wine (Matthew 9:17).
My Status as Queen
Did I die to my status as a monarch? Queen? Wait, I have never sat on a throne. I don’t rule a kingdom. I’ve never eaten peacock in my life.
My favorite chair isn’t embedded with gems; it came in the mail. In fact, what queen would unpack a set of parts and put her own chair together with a screwdriver?
But I can be selfish. Sure, compassionate people exist, and selfless people exist. The point is that worldly ideas of status and rights should not concern me now that I am new wine in a new wineskin.
It’s a YOLO sort of world out there. Do what feels right “You do you” as they say (what does that even mean?). It’s impossible to truly give up your status and serve others when we buy into earthly priorities of self-love, particularly if our goal is to emulate Christ. To seek the things above.
That’s a part of what I gave up when I was baptized — self. I died to the flesh and everything that clings to it, including society’s ideas of what is right and what is acceptable. I gave up my right to live a peaceful life with the world in order to have peace with the Lord.
This has become clearer over time along with my tendency toward selfishness; I need a foot bath every day (confession, repentance, forgiveness).
Fresh Start or Sin?
I wondered — is there such a thing as a “fresh start,” which is actually just sin? Walking away from something I need to face? Choosing to forget an enemy when we are supposed to be praying for him or her?
You hear it all the time or read it on social media: when someone hurts you, forgive and forget. Just walk away, it’s better for you. You’re looking after you now.
When we hang on to unforgiveness and anger, it’s exhausting; meanwhile, the other person maintains a hold on you even if that person has no idea what he did or has long since forgotten about you. Besides, we all need (says the world) to do a bit more self-love.
That’s not biblical. We must forgive because we were first forgiven (Matthew 6:14). We must not forget our enemies but pray for them (Matthew 5:44).
Forgiveness of others is a kind of fresh start where we hand over the clay of our hearts, let Christ break it down and turn it over, and then he raises beautiful fruit.
We certainly walk away from someone who habitually hurts us; we aren’t serving that person by letting him or her cause emotional or physical harm.
But to forget that person’s need for forgiveness, to imagine he or she isn’t worthy of that, is to forget that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Besides, how do we love our neighbors as ourselves if we are so self-focused? The self is small. A Christian’s fresh start opens up a much bigger world and a giant perspective.
From a Bad Place to a Fresh Start
There are situations where, quite legitimately, Christ is calling us up and out of our homes, our jobs, our friendships, and even our marriages. They are dangerous in some way.
How do we know he is calling us? How do we discern his voice from those of the people who have been telling us for so long “just leave him!” or “go ahead and quit!” or “put your needs first!”
If you are feeling unhappy where you are, ask yourself if that unhappiness is about the situation or about your attitude.
You are challenged by a relationship — is that because someone is saying uncomfortable things you need to hear or inappropriate and damaging things?
Is that because you are in emotional or physical danger, or because your pride is threatened? Do you want to leave your job because of a mistaken belief that it’s beneath you to wait tables or stock shelves, or because the environment is unhealthy?
Because you are being asked to do things that would compromise your Christian beliefs, or because your beliefs aren’t accepted and applauded?
Why would you leave? In order to find a job where you are appreciated more? Where there are other Christians who think as you do? Would you give up on a friendship or a marriage so you could avoid conflict and honesty?
If so, consider Christ’s example: he spoke truthfully to the woman at the well, but he did so with grace and mercy. He stayed with the disciples when they were “faithless and twisted” (Matthew 17:17).
He even came back to them after they abandoned him at the cross and hid from the authorities. Jesus stuck by them in spite of their mistakes instead of going out and making a fresh start with a new set of disciples.
I want to be clear; always get out of a dangerous situation. Jesus ran from the synagogue in Nazareth where they wanted to kill him. Paul fled from the angry Jews in Acts 9.
Just ask: is God leading you by his Spirit to make a move — to leave toxicity, even violence, and find peace in him — or is he challenging your perspective? There is no such thing as a perfect job or a relationship, which is always 100%.
Believers set a fresh example by aiming for honesty and humility. That’s going to hurt at times, but discomfort is not always a result of abuse or toxicity.
Will you run from all discomfort, or honor the courage in another person to lovingly show you what your sin is so you can confess, repent, and have a new start of much deeper, long-lasting importance, where your gaze is fixed on Christ? Will you let Christ change you, freshen you up, and lead you to repentance?
Fresh Starts Are Good
You might be asking yourself today “is it time to make a fresh start?” I’m with you friend; this is a toughie. With all of those voices trying to influence our decisions, it’s hard to hear the Lord’s voice.
Pray to the Father, read his Word, and talk to at least one godly friend or a trusted leader. Listen to them, although you might not need to get that far if you can hear your own voice and it doesn’t sound like Jesus.
We won’t be perfect this side of heaven, but if your lip and your hip are both jutted out, and you’re wearing your best sneer, you need a foot bath.
For further reading:
What Does it Truly Mean to Be a Citizen of Heaven?
10 Biblical Truths about Your Identity in Christ
Living the Bold Life for Christ
Photo Credit: ©iStockGettyImagesPlusNiseriN
Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.