When Curtis was a teenager, his classmates cruelly labelled him the school sissy and bullied him endlessly. He was small, thin, weak and frail…but he had a good heart and would help anyone who needed it. From late-elementary school through high school, and while the other boys were involved in more “manly” or “masculine” activities, Curtis was learning to play his little violin. He wasn’t particularly good at it, but good enough to play basic songs that entertained himself and his parents. Curtis was never to be seen without his violin…it was always either in his hand or in a small, black case by his feet. His violin was of cheap manufacture; it was the best Curtis ’s parents could afford. It was made with cheap maple wood with a plastic neck. The bow was found lying on a card table at a yard sale. Frankly, it sounded awful for a musical instrument, bargain basement parts, bulk wood sections and all. Curtis didn’t care…in it he saw great promise and possibility. One day in a park near the school, Curtis ’s classmates again called him “sissy,” shoved him, pushed him down and grabbed his violin case from him. Pulling the violin from the open case, they threw it back and forth between, taunted Curtis by holding it out of reach and at last, the biggest of the bullies smashed Curtis’s violin against a metal fencepost and chain-link fence. The violin body shattered into several chunks of maple that went spinning through the air; the strings stretched making a sickening, unmusical sound; the neck and tuning pegs jammed into the fencing and the chinrest was cracked. The classmate bullies wandered off laughing, complementing each other on their special brand of schoolyard abuse. Curtis sat on the ground quietly for a minute or so, looking at the violin pieces. Thousands of memories coursed through his mind…replaying all the songs he’d practiced on it over the past decade or so. Slowly, deliberately and carefully Curtis collected all of the violin pieces and parts and packed them neatly back into the violin case and headed home. The violin seemed hopelessly smashed. Curtis was too embarrassed to tell his parents what had happened to him and the violin. However, Curtis had a plan.Over the next six weeks, Curtis gathered himself emotionally and decided to rebuild the violin. With great care, he slowly glued, braced and reconstructed the violin. He was extra careful using the wood glue and triple-checked the tension on the strings, the alignment of the neck and sealing of the common body joints. Permitting the violin extra time to dry during each stage of reconstruction, the day finally came for him to play the instrument. However, instead of the horrible sound it made before, it sounded wonderful….so wonderful in fact that his parents were convinced it was another violin altogether. As did the bullies at Curtis’s school. Of course, this isn’t a narrative about violins. It’s a story about each one of us…each of us are like Curtis’s broken violin. Somewhere in our histories, each of us has been damaged, smashed or somehow broken by life. However, in Christ, we can be renewed better than before…becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. God’s grace and mercy are wide enough to encompass anyone, even the most vile, wicked sinner-even the foremost of sinners.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16God is only “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (See Romans 3:26 and Galatians 3:26). Jesus’ substitutionary death became our death.Jesus’ resurrection life has become our life.In Christ, our brokenness can be repaired.We are renewed through Him.The phrase “new creation” concisely summarizes the profound and rich blessings of renewal and salvation. Everyone who is in Christ becomes a new creature. (See Galatians 6:15) In Scripture, “new” as it appears there means new in quality, not just in sequence. Believers’ old selves were crucified with Him:“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that  the body ruled by sin might be done away with…” Romans 6:6a  As a believer we laid aside our old selves … and put on the new selves. (See Ephesians 4:22, 24; Colossians. 3:9-10)This transformation and renewal brought by our “new creation” is not only an instantaneous miracle but also a lifelong process of sanctification. For those of us that are so transformed, everything changes… the old things have passed away. Old values, plans, ideas, loves, desires and beliefs disappear, replaced by the new things that walk hand-in-hand with salvation. God plants new desires, loves, interests and truths in the redeemed, so that we live in the midst of the old creation with a new creation perspective (See Galatians 6:14). That life and worldview, as it is nourished and developed, helps believers gain victory in the battle against sin and conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18)Through God’s grace and through faith, and no matter what life throws at us, we can become new creatures in Christ. New violins. JG]]>