Faithlife Sermons

SHIFT 1: Reality Shift

SHIFT  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Bookmarks & Needs:

Bookmark: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Housekeeping Stuff & Announcements:

Welcome everyone to the family gathering.
This past Friday, our Governor announced that churches hold worship services at 25% capacity. She did this after I had already scheduled our One Call, and so now, we are planning to have our first in-person service here in the building next Sunday, May 24. If you are a local participant in Eastern Hills, I’m going to ask that you plan to stay here online for some instructions following the service this morning. I don’t want to take the time now at the beginning of the service for this, for those who are joining us by streaming only, who might not want to stay for those instructions.
Regardless, today is likely the last day that our worship time will look like it has for the past two months. As always, we see worshiping the Lord as a participation thing. We are together while we are apart, so you are not worshiping alone, even if you’re physically alone right now. Since that is the case, please join in worship just as you would if you were physically here. If you would sing, clap, raise your hands, etc. during music, do that where you are. When I ask that we stand, if you are able to do so, stand as well. When I pray, join in prayer with me. When we look at the Bible, get your own Bible out and read along.
We do have this morning’s service all set up on YouVersion, so you should be able to see it if you get on YouVersion and look for our Live Event.
Even though we are going to be coming back to the building in the coming weeks, we now have many out there in cyberspace (do people even use that term anymore?) who have been so faithful in worshiping with us, people who have never been here physically. Thank you for your faithfulness! Please know that Eastern Hills is now a streaming church. We will continue to stream in the weeks, months, and years to come, and we’ve even made great investment in that. So we would love to continue to worship with you in the future, and as a part of that, we want to be able to communicate with you. We’ve set up a keyword that you can text if you are visiting with Eastern Hills online. SCREEN You can text the word “LIVE” to 505-339-2004, and then it will ask you to click a link just to provide us with your name and email address. We want to be able to pray for you, follow up with you if you have any questions, and keep you apprised about things as we look forward into the coming weeks and months. Text LIVE to 505-339-2004. If you are planning on connecting with Eastern Hills in person once this crisis is past, you can text the keyword WELCOME to that same number to be in our local visitor contact group.
I wanted to give everyone an update on our Mother’s Day offering from last week. Our goal was $3,800. We received $5,165.50! 100% of that offering is going to go to support the work and ministry of the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home in Portales, NM. Thank you so much for your generous giving!
GRAD SUNDAY DRIVE-IN 5/31 at 9 am, bring or mail cards from now to then. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can give to the grads online. There is a list of this year’s grads on our Announcements page and on the Student Ministry page, so you can know who is graduating this year.
Use online giving. Go to our website, and right there on the front page is a button linking to our online giving page. It’s even mobile-friendly. You just choose the fund you want to give to (Church budget or something specific), and walk through the steps.


This I Believe (G)
Scandal of Grace (A)
O Come to the Altar (D)


Back in 2018, I ended my time as one of the leadership team members for our state convention’s Student Ministry camps, a team I had served on for years. Each year in preparation for camp, we would come together as a team and pray and share and brainstorm what theme and passage of Scripture God would lead us to for the next year’s camp. Our theme for 2018 was “SHIFT,” and our passage was 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. My role that year was to write the Bible studies that would be taught to all of the students attending camp that summer in our state, so that other members of the team could teach them. I didn’t actually attend camp that summer, as I had started as senior pastor that January. But I then used these studies as the framework for messages at our Sunday Evening Service that October and November, and each week, multiple members challenged me to share these studies with the church body as a whole on Sunday morning when I got the chance. So here we are.
This morning, before we read our focal passage, I’d like to take a moment to set up our theme for the next three Sundays that I will be preaching (today, May 24, June 7), as the three weeks will have the same overall focal passage.
If you were here in the building, and I were to ask you tell me what an oxymoron is, what would you say? Perhaps you would say something like: Words that contradict each other. This is a decent definition. Or perhaps you would give me an example of an oxymoron, such as a “jumbo shrimp” or that something might be “seriously funny.” In a way, we’re living out an oxymoron right now, as we are “apart together.” The actual definition of oxymoron is: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.
Another great example of an oxymoron is the modern term virtual reality. The idea of VR is that the “virtual” experience is so total that it simulates reality. However, “simulated reality” is not real. And true reality is real, not virtual, so “virtual reality” is an oxymoron. You can play VR video games at places like Hinkle, or some of you might even have your own VR kit for a gaming system or PC.
In a VR game, you can just start over at your last save point, coming back to life as if almost nothing had ever happened. Or you can start the whole thing over and try a completely different approach, and you can do this as many times as you want. There aren’t any actual consequences for doing this, because it’s virtual reality.
But we live in actual reality. We are real people with real lives, real relationships, real responsibilities.
However, just because these things are real doesn’t mean that they don’t change… or “shift.”
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are full of various shifts: changes in our place or position, our attitude or judgment, our direction or emphasis. Some of them are major, some not as much. Some are instantaneous, some are more gradual.
For this series, we’re going to spend our next three sermons thinking about how encountering Jesus should radically shift our reality, our relationships, and our responsibilities. Now for our focal passage:
2 Corinthians 5:14–21 CSB
14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised. 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In each of our next three messages together, we’ll look at a different section of this passage.
Throughout our lives, we are going to go through things that cause a shift, a change in our place, position, attitude, judgment, direction, or emphasis. Some of these shifts are really minor in scope: moments in your life where you make a small adjustment as a result of something occurring, like the store is out of your favorite breakfast cereal, so you buy a different one. But some shifts are major: things like getting a driver’s license, changing jobs, moving from one city to another, the death of a loved one.
Right now, we are living through a tremendous shift as we navigate the waters of a pandemic and give thought to what the future might hold. The framework of our day-to-day lives has been in many ways shaken, and in many ways, altered forever. COVID-19 has altered our lives in just about every aspect of our list of how things change in a shift: our place, because many of us are staying home… in fact, you’re living out this shift right now as you watch from there. Our position: many of us have had to change how we work, and even if we work, as many have lost their jobs during this crisis. Our attitudes: Many of us who may not have been willing to even consider attending worship services online only are now doing just that, and are finding to be a blessing. This is just a few examples of how this time is shifting our perspective.
These experiences that we go through, whether as minor as an inconvenience or as major as a pandemic, all make changes in our lives. We might even say that the major experiences are so large that they shift what we might call our reality: the way our lives actually are from that point forward. COVID-19 is this kind of a shift for many of us, if not all of us in some way.
In our main passage for the week, two verses really stand out as “reality shift” verses.
2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB
21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What major reality shift do we see in verse 17? OLD to NEW.
What major reality shift do we see in verse 21? SINFUL to RIGHTEOUS.


In order to understand the shifts we will talk about in this series, we need to look at the beginning of verse 17 first. There’s a shift implied here that makes the others make sense.
2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ…”
IN” is a preposition. It speaks to where something or someone is in relation to something or someone else.
Who or what can be “in” in this part of the verse? ANYONE.
And who or what can that “anyone” be “in?” CHRIST.
Christ is not Jesus’s last name. It is His title: He is THE Christ. THE Messiah. The Savior.
What does it mean for someone to be “in” Christ? In this sentence, it means to be “a part of, joined with, belonging to.”
The importance of the “IF” is that there are two possibilities: to be “IN” Christ is one of them. The other would be to NOT be “IN” Christ.
Now, I would guess that most of you who are watching and listening right now, or who will watch and listen in the future, would say that you are “in Christ…”: That you are saved. But there may be some of you who have never surrendered your life to God through faith in Christ… you are not “in Christ.”
The shifts that we are going to talk about this series all start with this one: going from not being “in Christ” to being “in Christ.” The Apostle John wrote:
1 John 5:11–12 CSB
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
So “not in Christ” = “doesn’t have the Son of God” = “does not have eternal life.”
The Bible tells us that God loves us (John 3:16, Rom 5:8, 1 John 4:9-10), but that we have sinned (made choices that go against God’s character and will) and are separated from Him because of it (Rom 3:23, Col 1:21). Because of our sin, we are not “in Christ,” and deserve the punishment of death.
Romans 6:20–21 CSB
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death.
Romans 6:23 CSB
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, because of God’s goodness and mercy, He sent His Son Jesus the Christ, to live the perfect life that we would have to live to be completely acceptable to God, but then to take all of our sinfulness and the punishment that we deserve in our place (Heb 13:12) and 1 Peter 3:18:
1 Peter 3:18 CSB
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
But then Jesus defeated death by coming back to life, and He will never die again (Rom 6:9, Rev 1:18).
To be “in Christ”, we surrender our rights to do things our own way (also known as “dying to self” Rom 6:3-8 & 11), and we trust completely in the work of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins (Matt 26:28, Eph 1:7, Col 1:14) and for our hope of living forever with Him (John 5:24, 6:40, 17:3). In that surrender, we become “part of, joined with, belonging to” Christ (Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:12, Gal 3:28). This is the message of the Gospel.
So “in Christ” = “has the Son of God” = “has eternal life.”
This is the first thing we have to think about, because all of the other shifts in our lives that we’re going to talk about flow out of this one: are we “in Christ” or not? The promises of the rest of this verse and verse 21 hang on this question.
If you are not “in Christ”, but now that you have heard about what God has done for you through Christ, I want you to know and understand that you can surrender yourself to Him right now, where you are, in this moment, by trusting Him for your salvation. Leave a moment for reflection on this fact.
For those who have already experienced this reality shift, John continues:
1 John 5:13 CSB
13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
If you have made this shift and are “in Christ”, that doesn’t mean that this message of salvation is something you should just tune out. Every time we reflect on the work that God has done in Christ to save us, it should cause us to praise Him, thank Him, and encourage us to tell others about what He has done for us! In this way, the Gospel message is something that we should reapply and reapply to our lives over and over.
The remaining two reality shifts speak of the results of this first reality shift.

REALITY SHIFT #2: OLD to NEW (2 Cor. 5:17b)

And what does the rest of this verse say?
2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
There used to be a show on TV called “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” I really liked watching that show. They even did one here in Albuquerque.
When that show first started, they would fix problems and remodel houses for the people they served. But the house was still the same footprint, the same foundation, the same basic design.
They would make a bad house better. They would make a sad house happier.
Eventually though, the format of the show changed. Instead of just coming and remodeling a house, they would start with a bulldozer and knock the entire house down to the ground, pour a new foundation, and start completely over. NOTHING of the old house was left. Everything was made new.
The work of Jesus is to make all things new, including US!
Revelation 21:5 CSB
5 Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
The work of Jesus is NOT to make bad people better. We can be “better” in our own strength in a lot of ways. We can choose to be kind, we can choose to put others’ needs before our own, we can quit doing _______ (whatever it is that we think we need to quit to become better). We can start doing _______ (whatever it is that we think we should start doing to become better). But the ultimate in better: the best is to be like Jesus Himself. And we can never do that in our strength, but only through the work of God by His Spirit in our lives.
While this is not the point of Jesus’s work, it should begin to happen when we have been made new… we should start on a path to being like Jesus.
The work of Jesus is NOT to make sad people happier. Happiness is all about circumstance and what’s going on in our lives at the moment. Even sinful things can make us “happy” for a moment or even for a time! I’ve known people who were unfaithful to their spouse because they said it made them “happy,” and their lives were wrecked because of it. I’ve known people who were addicted to dangerous and illegal drugs because they said they made them “happy,” but who went to jail as a result. Jesus came to bring something more than happiness.
While this is not the point of Jesus’s work, being made new gives us the joy of knowing that we have peace with God: that we are pleasing to Him (Rom 5:1).
The work of Jesus makes dead people alive (Rom 8:11, Eph 2:5, Col 2:13). It makes lost people found (Luke 15:32). It makes slaves into family (John 8:35, Gal 4:7)!
Verse 17 tells us that the “old has passed away.” The apostle Paul wrote that everything that was a gain in his mind, he saw now as a loss compared to being in Christ.
Philippians 3:7–9 CSB
7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith.
If we are in Christ, the old things are dead: they no longer have POWER over us, and we are made new:
To walk in a new way of life (Rom 6:4, Eph 4:1-3)
To have different desires (Gal 5:17 & 24, Eph 4:22)
Growing to be more and more like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18)
But that isn’t all. We also have a change in how God sees us.


Like having the reality shift of OLD to NEW, if we are in Christ, we have experienced a shift of identity from SINFUL to RIGHTEOUS.
If we are in Christ, then as we said in the first point: Christ has taken all of our sin and the punishment for that sin on Himself.
2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB
21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus didn’t have any sin, so He could take all of our sin (1 Pet 1:18-19).
So now, if we are in Christ, we are seen by God has having all of our sin forgiven and covered by His sacrifice (Eph 2:12-13).
But MORE than that, we aren’t just seen as “forgiven”, but as RIGHTEOUS in His sight (Rom 8:31-34) There is basically a trade: He took our sin, “so that in Him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.”
Does this mean that if we are “in Christ” that we no longer do sinful things? No. We still struggle against the sinful nature that is within us (but it no longer has authority or true power over us, as we said in OLD to NEW).
Galatians 5:16–17 CSB
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.
We aren’t fully righteous and sinless from a practical standpoint until we are with God in glory (Phil 3:20-21). This is what makes Christ’s sacrifice so amazing! We are given Christ’s righteousness as He takes our sinfulness, and we are seen as being righteous, even though we are still in the process of becoming what He sees us as! Paul continues in Philippians 3:
Philippians 3:10–11 CSB
10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
This frees us to live a life that honors God (Rom 8:12, Gal 5:13-14), and this is what we are going to be talking about for the remaining two studies in this series…


These first shifts (NOT IN to IN, OLD to NEW, SINFUL to RIGHTEOUS) are about our REALITY… how our life really is. Instead of hopelessness, we have hope. Instead of being dead, we are alive. Instead of being sinful, we are seen as righteous.
So if you are not in Christ, today are you willing to trust in what He has done for you, and surrender your life to Him, and shift from being NOT IN Christ, to being IN Christ?
And if you are in Christ, do you see yourself as made new? Have you realized that God has given you the righteousness of Jesus? How should that impact your reality: how your life really is?
The challenge for each of us today is to live the way our lives actually are because of what Christ has done: to see ourselves correctly, and to honor Him accordingly.
Reflection: O Come to the Altar (D)
Word of thanks: Those who have served in other “essential” businesses: auto repair, hardware stores, construction and maintenance services, utility workers, government employees… the list is too long to do, but you know who you are. Thank you so much for your commitment to keeping our lives moving!
Closing: This I Believe REPRISE (G)
On Wednesday, when Governor Lujan-Grisham announced that churches could open for worship services at 10% capacity, we had originally planned on being able to come together for worship in the building on June 7. Now that the number has been changed to 25%, we are making plans for next Sunday morning. We are not sure exactly what this is going to look like. There are are few things that we do know, however: We will need to keep the service to under an hour in length. We will all need to wear masks unless you are speaking to the group (I won’t have one on while I’m preaching). We will not have any nursery or child care. We will have to maintain social distancing, and use the doors under the carport for coming in, and the doors from the foyer to the courtyard for leaving. However, there are questions about singing, about bathrooms, about schedule.
The biggest question right now is whether we need to have one service or two in order to be the most effective in maintaining social distancing. We are considering having a service around 9:00 (it might be 845), and another service at our normal time of 10:30. This would allow us time to sanitize between services, if needed. We are in need of feedback from you to let us know when and if you plan on coming next Sunday. So at 1:00 this afternoon, our OneCall system is going to start calling the church with a poll. The poll will have three options: 1) you plan on coming next week to a 9:00 service. 2) you plan on coming next week to a 10:30 service. 3) you don’t plan on coming in person next week. Please make sure you answer the call and respond to the poll, because we really need this information to make the best use of time and resources.
So please look for that poll, and we will see many of you next Sunday, Lord willing!
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