Pastor's monthly update from "The Concordian" newsletter.
One way I unwind is by watching improvement shows. It could be a home improvement show, a self-improvement show or even a car improvement show. It’s satisfying (as the kids nowadays like to say) to see transformations.
About a week ago, I started watching a show I had seen before, Flea Market Flip with Lara Spencer. Have you seen it? Two couples refurbish or re-design furniture for re-sale. Whoever makes the biggest profit wins $5,000.
First, they have to find something old or antique to buy at an open-air market. The furniture is often dated, worn and/or broken. Sometimes, they buy items that aren’t furniture at all, but have a lot of character. Then, they take those items (each team has to re-purpose three items) and make them into something both beautiful and useful. Finally, they go to a flea market and try to sell these items for a good profit.
Some people have amazing imaginations. They have a gift for color and design. What’s really cool is when the person buying a piece that they’ve made appreciates it as much as the couple who re-purposed it.
I think I watched five episodes (1/2 hour each) straight once. It’s a little addicting.
There is something satisfying about taking a piece of furniture that was bound for the dumpster, buying it and bringing it back to life; maybe even making it better than it ever was. It might take a lot of work and even a few scrapes and bruises, but the end result makes it worth it all.
It’s not so easy to do with people. Trying to make another person a project often ends in disappointment and frustration for the person you are trying to change. You are communicating to that person that they aren’t good enough for you.
On the other hand, self-improvement proves just as difficult. It takes great effort to simply change one habit or attitude. Patterns are formed over a lifetime which makes redesigning ourselves a challenge.
After the fall in Eden, all people were bound for the dumpster. Humanity couldn’t just be “re-upholstered” or repainted. Humans had to be completely destroyed. There was no repair job that could just fix our broken parts. At the root of those broken parts was sin.
No amount of makeup, fashionable clothing or haircuts would affect the sinful nature men and women now carried about. The human heart was now deceitfully wicked, and people were sinful from their conception in the womb. People were completely hideous before God because of their sin.
God had to start from scratch. So, He sent His only Son to save us and make us beautiful to Him. That beauty could only come from God’s righteousness. But, how to give it to the unrighteous and sinful?
That’s where Jesus Christ comes in. He was given your sin and mine. He was lifted up on a cross, bruised and crucified as the sin of the world. God the Father destroyed Him in judgment. Jesus died for sinners, the righteous for the unrighteous. Humanity’s destruction fell on Jesus. And God the Father was satisfied with Jesus’ self-sacrifice.
God didn’t choose us for some hidden beauty in ourselves or “potential.” He chose worthless human creatures to make the ugly beautiful in His Son. That He did by raising Jesus Christ from the dead three days later. It was there that His resurrection righteousness was given to the unrighteous. His robe of righteousness was given as a complete cover for sin.
A poor analogy might serve; we are like old, torn, pee-stained couches that are covered with the most expensive and beautiful couch cover in history. We are, at the same time, sinful and righteous. Sinners and saints. Holy and profane.
God isn’t finished with us, either. We are “works in progress” until we are with Him in heaven. He has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to re-birth us spiritually. He is the one who sanctifies you. You may not be able to see it, but that’s o.k. Your sanctification isn’t for you; it’s for your neighbors. It’s done in you to serve them and be the hands of God to them. And, you aren’t re-furbished – you are resurrected.
Your beauty and attractiveness aren’t from the work you do on yourself. They aren’t from the effort to make new habits. Your beauty and attractiveness are your savior who completely covers you with His own beauty and righteousness.
Now, when God looks at you, He sees His own beauty. And with you, God is fully satisfied for the sake of Jesus Christ. His workmanship isn’t just good, it’s perfect.
Now, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.