When I think about filling my world...
Today is kind of a part two that follows last week.
Last week we talked about what it means to image God.
Knowing our purpose here is extremely important.
You have been made in the image of your Creator, so it is important to understand how that works.
Let’s do a very quick review of how we got here:
We can find ourselves mired in chaos, so much that we are unable to see through the darkness as though there is no light.
We saw that in order to dispel the chaos we must invite God into our chaos and through asking, trusting, faith and believing, we establish a starting point.
That is a glimmer of light for some.
For others, there are just areas of your life that are chaotic.
Bringing order to chaos.
We saw in 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul talked about the trouble and chaos facing the followers of Jesus, and he turned that around to show how God transforms trouble and chaos into glory.
That glory reveals a characteristic of God through us to others.
More than that, it gives us shelf space to process chaos one day at a time, through faith, resulting in glory on the other side.
Filling our new shelves, Part 1, Imaging God.
We can bring some resolution to chaos by acknowledging it exists, either by our own actions or the actions of others.
We can establish a new framework or system of order that transforms chaos into glory.
But what is the real purpose behind that?
We have a job on earth: to image God.
How you relate to everything in your life, possessions and people, will be a direct reflection on your relationship with God.
To Image God is to be His ambassador
As Paul has been writing to the Corinthians, he has been explaining how he goes about his life under such severe circumstances.
There are many who doubt him, and in Corinth there are some “super apostles” that are always seeing visions, always hearing from God, always speaking in tongues, etc. Paul is not one of those.
He uses a phrase that we all should pay close attention to as we begin to fill out our shelf of faith.
Let’s see what Paul had to say in 2 Corinthians 5:11-17
11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.
God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.
12 Are we commending ourselves to you again?
No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.
We have our fist set of items on our shelf of faith:
Paul is asking us to understand this responsibility we have to bring glory from chaos.
He is asking us to be sincere about it, not just doing it because “we have to.”
And don’t draw attention to yourself as you go about your business of converting chaos to glory.
13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.
And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.
Dash of crazy
But not the real crazy.
This word is perplexing.
It does not mean insane, it is more like uncommon but moral means.
Dash of right mindedness
But not too far, otherwise you will drive people around you crazy!
14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.
Get really familiar with the gospels and see how Jesus behaved towards others.
Then ask yourself, “am I showing Christ’s love towards others?”
This includes enemies, foreigners, strangers, essentially all humans.
Key here is that you allow yourself to be controlled by love, not by your own selfish desires.
This is a radical departure from human nature.
Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.
Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
Not living for me
Perhaps we should just sit with that one for a little while.
Take a couple of cups of tea or coffee to really let that one sink in.
There is another one coming.
Our purpose of imaging God as we participate in this transformation from chaos to glory is rooted in living for Christ.
Ask yourself this, “what do I really need to image God?” Then weight what you currently want and see how they line up.
Yes, winning a $700M lottery would empower and enrich many people.
In all you know and understand about God, has He moved people through the lottery or through love?
Like I said, there is another one coming that belongs on our shelf of faith.
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.
At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.
How differently we know him now!
Judgement be gone
Another one where we might pause and take a few sips and ponder this verse.
Many thought of Jesus as being whatever they thought he was supposed to be.
By all indications, this Messiah was nothing anyone expected.
Andy Stanley captures it this way, “People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, and Jesus liked people who were nothing like him.”
To do that, we must stop evaluating or judging others from our point of view.
That is his point.
At one time WE thought of Christ…It is a parallel to saying, “I think of YOU...”, when we are dealing with other people.
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person (new creation).
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Hence the series title, “New Creation Year”.
Make your goals, that is fine, but consider including this way of thinking into your goals, not just for the year but for your life and those around you.
Does this really require any explanation?
In Christ, you are a new person.
You are being transformed into the image of God, through the power of Christ.
You can just hear Paul telling them to stop behaving as they always have.