Have you seen the movie The Little Mermaid? My daughter loves The Little Mermaid. Which means I’ve seen it many, many times….
At the end of the movie Ariel gets her wish and becomes human.
After watching the movie so many times and buying toys and other merchandise I noticed something. They all depict Ariel as a mermaid, not a human.
This bothered me. Ariel should be depicted as a human. She’s no longer the “Little Mermaid.”
What Does This Have To Do With Theology?
This got me thinking about the Christian life. I realized we often do the same thing in the church. Even though we’re new creations in Christ, we have a nasty habit of looking at each other as if we’re still sinful people.
This doesn’t mean we still don’t sin. We do. But what Paul says to the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 demonstrates the same problem I have with the Little Mermaid.
“16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17, NET).
Even though Arial has been made into a new creation––a human––we still have that same nasty habit of seeing her as a mermaid.
It’s one thing to mistake a cartoon character’s identity. It’s something more serious to do it with Christians.
Afraid To Be New?
Do you remember your conversion or maybe a breakthrough you had at the alter? I remember having experiences at the alter where the Holy Spirit changed me. I left the alter feeling like a totally different person. In that moment I felt incredible! Like a person who’s been given a fresh start.
That amazing feeling would last until I realized how others would think about me after this incredible transformation. That fear has a way of getting to you and making you question just how different you really are. You start to wonder if people will accept the new you. How will your change affect your relationships? Will they think you’re just acting?
Before long, you start thinking the inward change should just stay there. Acting on that change will only make things weird. It seems easier just to go along with your old life so it’s easier on everyone.
There’s just one problem. The change can’t take place in our lives unless we start living it. If we don’t change, our transformation can’t last. We’ll end up just remembering it as a good feeling we had once.
This is what I like to refer to as the “summer camp syndrome.” You go to camp. God changes your life. Then a few weeks later you’re at school and back to your old way of life.
Mermaid or New Creation?
I don’t think the change isn’t real for those that fall prey to the “summer camp syndrome.” It’s absolutely real…, in that moment. And most have to go through this cycle at least once. I’ve been through this cycle close to a dozen times.
Each time is real! Each time contributes something to my life, even if the change doesn’t take hold in the way I want. Looking back on those times and my failure to walk in the change actually causes change in me today. The experience was real. God did a work in my life. The only reason it didn’t “last” was because I stopped walking in it.
The lesson here: If you want to be regarded as a new creation, you need to make sure you don’t make the Little Mermaid mistake. Remember that you’re a new creation, and act like it. Walk around on your two legs rather than swim with a fin. Doing so will bring unbelievable freedom to your life!
But as important as it is to live out our own Christianity, we must also show others grace. If we want others to see us as Christ does, we should start by regarding them as new creations. This was the fear, after all, that held us back from being new.
So let’s stop looking at each other a mermaids and start regarding one another as new creations.
What are some challenges you regularly face with living as a new creation? How can the church better support one another through love and grace as the new creations we have become?