How many times have you met an older person with a lined face, white hair, a stooped body and aches, but also with a twinkle in their eye and a smile that seems to say they don’t feel old at all? A lady perhaps, whose body might be failing, but on the inside someone who is very much still young. In fact older people can often be more playful and youthful than a lot of younger people! A depth of character can allow them to enjoy the moment more than someone younger, who might be swept along by a tide of fickle emotions.
In the Book of Revelation, the Lord said, "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5) This is a prophecy about the New Church that was to be born. This is a prophecy that followers of the teachings given through Swedenborg seek to make real today.
What does it mean that all things will be made new? If you look at the teachings in Swedenborg’s Writings, you will find some things that you can't find anywhere else, such as teachings about life after death, eternal marriage and the inner meaning of the Word. You will also find a lot of things that you could have found in Scripture. After all, New Church teachings are firmly based on the Bible and confirmed from it.
‘At first glance, the basic teachings for the New Church may look ordinary, but look closer...’
What is so new about the teaching that Jesus Christ is the one God? What is so new about the teaching that you become a good person by shunning what God has forbidden and doing what He has said? It may be true that some churches in the past have not lived these teachings as they should have, but the ideas themselves are not new. The foundational teachings of the New Church are in fact 2000 years old!
One of the things I think we might all like is for the teachings of the New Church to be stated in such a way that anyone who hears them will immediately be powerfully struck by the clarity and originality of the thought. We may wish that Swedenborg's Writings are more easily quotable in the way that the works of Shakespeare can be. Yet this is often not the case. The Writings are not epigrammatic.
So what is it that makes the New Church new? It’s not necessarily the external appearance. The New Church may not seem flashy or youthful on the outside. No, what is new comes from within. The how and why explanations that its teachings are true - the depth and inexhaustible wisdom that they hold inside.
What makes the New Church new is not merely the teaching that Jesus Christ is the one God, it is the explanation of how it could be that a person who walked and slept on earth, is also the God of the universe. The Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule are not new, but what is new are the reasons for how and why they eternally benefit us, when we apply them to our daily lives.
At first glance, the basic teachings for the New Church may look ordinary, but look closer and we can begin to see the life and wisdom within a 2000 year old face. We can see an inner life that makes what is old on the outside seem fresh and youthful.
A casual onlooker might only see white hair and wrinkles, but to one who is willing to delve, there is a depth and joy within that speaks of God anew.
Finally, when we truly see the teachings in their own light, the appearance of being old will be dispersed. We will see truth from God, which has been around for thousands of years, made new because of what is within - young, vibrant and full of life. Those teachings, which are as old as history, then become to us the beautiful bride of the Lord. As the Lord said,
“Behold I make all things new.”