Jump Start # 3081
Ephesians 4:22-24 “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which is the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
Very close to our church building stands a tall old brick farm house. It’s been there for decades. It was built in 1860. Recently, developers purchased the land with the intentions of putting some stores on the lot. They were going to tear down the old farm house. The local community rallied to save the old farm house. Eventually, the community one. The developers are in the process of moving this brick house to a new location. I drive by that spot every day. There has been a lot of work going on. The side additions to the farm house have been removed. The ground around the farm house has been cleared away. Today, I saw several large wheeled carts that I suppose will be used to lift the house upon and then move to the new location. It sure has taken days and days of work and what masters of engineering to figure out how to do this without destroying the old house.
In a short while, this old farm house will be sitting proudly in its new location. Within a year or so, new people to our community will think that the farm house has always been where it was moved to. A new place. A new location. It sure took a lot of work to get it there. There was a whole process that involved many people.
The moving of that old farm house made me think of our verse today. A change takes place. The old self was left behind. It was laid aside. A new self was created. This new self is different than the old self. A new way of thinking. New habits. New and better people in your life. New hope. New purpose. Gone are the habits that tied us to sin. Selfishness, greed, indifference, earth bound thinking—all left behind.
The moving of that farm house made me realize some things:
First, there is a lot of thinking, considering and planning that must take place before any visible actions are seen. For the prodigal, he came to his senses first. Then he thought to himself. He planned what he was gong to say to his father. He rehearsed that speech. Then he got up and headed home. Finally, he spoke to his father. That process of leaving the old behind and seeking a new and better life in Christ is caused by faith. This has nothing to do with health. This has nothing to do with being arrested, fired, or expelled. It’s all about God. There is a lot of thinking that takes place first.
Sometimes the rest of us can look at someone and conclude that nothing is changing. We expect change to happen quickly. I knew about that farm house being moved back during the winter. For a long, long time it seemed like nothing was happening. But things were being done. Blueprints were being drawn. People where getting lined up. Surveys were made. Little orange flags appeared one day in the yard around the farm house. A lot of steps were taken before any hardhats showed up. And, so it is with someone coming back to the Lord. There is a lot of thinking going on. Faith is making a choice. Our impatience can believe that the person isn’t doing anything when actually, a whole lot of decisions are being made in the mind.
Second, to move that old farm house, some things had to be torn down. It wasn’t possible to move it as it was. And, so it is when we come to the Lord. There are some things that just have to go. Some things, as our passage states, must be laid aside. Coming to Christ involves more than just adding church to a busy life. There are some things that have to be dropped. Wrong thinking. Wrong doctrine. Wrong attitudes. Even, wrong people. Those things can’t go with us to Christ. They will ruin our relationship with Jesus and cripple our discipleship. Knowing what to leave behind is hard for some. There are some friendships that are just not healthy. The longer we hang on to them, the more they keep us from being what we ought to be. Some habits are really hard to break. The culture of saying bad words has been around some for a lifetime. Stopping that and changing that is hard. Being compassionate is hard for some. Being generous is hard.
Third, once the old farm house is safely set in the new location, it will be able to serve the community for many more years. And, the same is true of our lives. Once we are reshaped, rebuilt and rewired in Jesus Christ, the new person in us is in a much better place to help and serve others. As time passes, we no longer remember or want to remember what the old life was like. The new place we find ourselves is so much better. The hope, the joy, the promises, the blessings, all found in Christ will make us wonder why it took us so long to change. Christ does more than forgive us of our sins. He creates a new us. He makes us better than we ever have been. And this new person does not want to ever go back to the way he was.
Moving a farm house…not nearly as difficult as it is moving out of our old selves and moving into the new life created by Christ. But, hard as it may be, it can be done and is being done every day.