When a Christian yells or screams at somebody or bosses somebody or gossips or uses foul language or acts in other un-Christ-like ways, we can’t ever say, “Well, that’s just the way she is” or “he’ll never change.”
Wait a second! He’s been baptized! That’s NOT the way he is! She has to change!
The whole point of submitting to Christ, to having your life hidden with Christ, is to be changed. Radically changed. Dramatically changed. It’s never, “He’s always been that way, he can’t change.” Instead, it’s always, “Wow! Remember when he used to be that way? Now, he’s a brand new person. It’s not even him anymore. He’s so different.”
Sometimes we act like that, when we become Christians, God walks into our house and begins rearranging things. God comes in and looks around and starts making changes. You know, he starts cleaning up. Let’s get rid of these magazines. Let’s move this couch. We need to throw out that table. These three walls need to be repaired and painted. You think that’s what’s happening.
But just look out your window. Look out there. God has this huge wrecking ball out there poised to demolish the whole thing. The reality is that God believes your whole foundation is shot and you need to start over from scratch. Everything needs to be destroyed. New creation. New order. New self. New nature. New everything.
When we submit to Jesus, when we’re baptized, our old nature is not renewed or reformed. Our old nature, our old self, is not restored or fixed. It’s not even saved. It’s destroyed. It’s gone. It’s dead and buried. Baptism is never an overhaul of our sinful personalities. We don’t add Christian values and practices into our old worldly values and practices and then get really good at acting better and better. We don’t put our new clothes on over our old clothes. The old clothes are stripped off and burned!
Baptism’s never a minor adjustment or a legal formality. It’s death. The key element to living in Christ is, first and foremost, dying with Christ. It’s submitting to that wrecking ball. Come and demolish all of this. Create in me something brand new.
Scripture always focuses on what a believer is instead of what a believer does. And what a believer is, is a brand new creature.
I told our church Sunday that every single person in the pews could get up and preach the morning’s sermon, based solely on our experiences together at Give Away Day. At the very least, we each had brought with us our own sermon illustrations. Steve Prescott emailed his sermon to me yesterday:
“As I collapsed exhausted into my recliner after Give Away Day, my three-year-old granddaughter asked, ‘Where have you been all day, Papa?’ I replied, ‘I’ve been working at church all day.’ She said, ‘No, Papa, church is tomorrow.’
It occured to me that Saturday we were being the church as we served others. On Sundays, we often are just doing church instead of really being church seven days a week. I am resolved to do better.”
Amen, Steve. Me, too.