"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV)
If I am in Christ, God creates me anew. We talk about fresh starts and second chances, yeah, but the idea of being a completely new creation goes far beyond anything we experience on our own. This isn't being a second draft, or a new edition, or a freshly printed copy: it's an entirely rewritten story.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (KJV)
Behold! New things have come. Not: have hope, new things will be here soon. Not: hold on and persevere, new things will happen eventually. Not: try hard, and then new things will happen. This transformation isn't for later, and it isn't by our effort. It's now. Already. Look, the new things are here already, if you would only see them.
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (NLT)
Not just new things--new life!
"Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new." (CEV)
I can belong to Christ as a child belongs to its mother, as a husband belongs to his wife, as a painting belongs to its artist. I don't have to be alone anymore. I don't have to be a stranger and an alien. Also, I don't have to belong to a church or be accepted by a church for transformation to happen. I only have to belong to Christ. And then the old things aren't just gone from my current state and present actions and identity. Rather, they are forgotten. They are wiped away, eliminated from memory, deleted. And it's not just a few shabby things that are made new. It's not just the problem areas, or the places where I have tried and failed. It's everything!
But God doesn't give me an identity foreign to who I was. He gives the identity I was seeking all along. He makes me the person I started out as, in God's plan, before sin (suffering and fear and a broken world and selfish choices) came in and marred that creation. He makes me new.