New Year, New Me
FFWPU USA: On Sunday, January 4, 2015, Dr. Balcomb gave a New Year’s message titled “New Year, New Me” at the Cheon Hwa (Heavenly Dwelling Place) Gung in Las Vegas. In his sermon, Dr. Balcomb describes what it will take for us and for God to build a new world centered on peace and love.
Good morning, everybody. Happy New Year! How many people are attending your first Sunday service in this building? Would you stand up and be recognized? Welcome. Okay, now how many of you are attending your first Sunday service in 2015 in this building? Please stand up. Everybody, right? So, good morning and, again, happy New Year! The theme of my sermon this morning is “New Year, New Me.” My goal is that by the time you walk out of this building, in just three hours from now—no, just kidding!—you will feel a “new me.”
I’ve always been fascinated by Revelation 21:5 [“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”], the first Bible reading we read this morning, because it’s so inspiring and uplifting. Here is God, sitting on the throne of the universe, telling us, “I will make all things new.” Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation, it explains what that means. God will wipe away every tear from every eye. There’ll be no more suffering, there’ll be no more sorrow, there’ll be no more death; everything will be new. And for a large portion of my life I was quite satisfied with that idea. But a few years ago, a nagging thought came into my mind: If everything’s going to be new, what about me? I mean, I’m not ready, I’m not perfect. I wonder if there’ll be room for me in such a completely new world of God. If you know your Bible, you’ll realize that this promise that God makes comes after an enormous amount of suffering. Scripture calls it the Great Tribulation, and it describes in pretty good detail the way our world is today. Earthquakes, disease, famine, war, conflict—and remember, St. John was writing this 2,000 years ago, but even so, it was pretty easy to see how the world that is separated from God would be. So God is giving that promise, but there are a whole lot of things that happen first.
I have five children, and for them, to make all things new means, “You’re going to buy me a new one, Dad.” For example, my two youngest have been suffering with an iPhone 4S for the last two years. I must be the worst parent on the planet. How could I possibly let them continue to use that phone? It’s two years old. Actually it wasn’t two years old, so the contract was still running. Every day for about three months they’d be telling me, “Dad, I need a new phone.” And what are they going to do with the old phone when I give them a new one? They’re going to throw it away, right? A few years ago, it was all about getting a new computer. Remember when you bought a computer? And pretty soon after you opened the box, it was out of date. “I want a new one!” I used to tell my kids, “I can fix your computer; I can make it work just like new.” “No, Dad, you don’t understand. I want a new one.”
So what about God? When He talks about making a new world, and a new heaven and a new earth, does that mean that He’s going to discard the earth we live on right now? Who’s going to live in that new world, in that new kingdom? Is there going to be a brand-new set of people created by God who never suffered, never sinned, who never had a problem? No, right? Actually—and I have to confess, I went to the Seminary to learn this—the word that God uses for “new” in this scripture doesn’t mean that kind of new. It means renewed, repaired, rebuilt, refreshed. It’s new in the sense of taking something that may have been tired and broken and damaged, and rebuilding it in God’s factory. It’s as good as new, it’s fresh, but it’s still us. It’s still this world we live in. In a way I think that’s much better. You know, some people believe that at the time of God’s Kingdom, only a very small number of people will get in. St. John talked about the 144,000 who would be raised up. Now, if you’re in exile on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean, 144,000 is an impossibly large number. But if you live, as we do, with 7.3 billion people, 144,000 is nothing. If God could be satisfied with that, and see 99 percent of His children, 99.9, still suffering and miserable, that can’t be right. What we’re talking about is how God renews and repairs and rebuilds us. Just as we are to live and develop and build His Kingdom. Don’t you think that’s worth learning about? You are essential, and all of us are essential, to the building of God’s Kingdom.
Let me say a bit about our founder—you see his picture up here—Rev. Sun Myung Moon. He was born in 1920 in North Korea, not into a Christian family but a Confucian family. However, when he was about 10 years old, his family converted, and as children often are, he became a very, very keen student of the Bible. And for the first few years, he felt like most Korean Christians did, which was that a new world, a new kingdom, would be one that would start by liberating the country from oppression. At that time Korea was occupied by Japan. The Japanese were running the government, the economy, and the average Korean suffered a great deal. So, for most of them, the thought of a new world, a new kingdom, would be one with no Japanese. Where the Koreans were running their own country and were living at peace, and frankly, that kind of feeling was prevalent throughout the world. Read More