by Lynn Buzzard
Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17).
…put off the old man … and put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him (Colossians 3:9b, 10).
There is a house right on main street in a small town near my home that has been the subject of conversation all over town for many months. It was a fine home, owned by one of the most successful businessmen in town, and had been inherited by his only daughter on his recent passing. Her desire, however, was to modernize it a bit, redo perhaps the kitchen, and add a couple of rooms. A fine home, just needed a few improvements.
So the town watched as the project began. At first just a few portions of the old house were dismantled, but then it turned out the brick for the new part could not match the old, so all the brick was removed. Then the roof line with the addition wasn’t going to be quite right, so the whole roof came off. And then, having gone this far, why not redo some interior walls. Soon, there was hardly a thing left of the original, as step by step, problems arose, this or that needed improving, new building codes were involved, and the final product now has almost nothing of the original left. Same address—but quite a different house.
It seemed to me something of a parable of our spiritual rebirth and renewal. The Scriptures speak of a new birth, a new creation—the old is passing away and the new is coming. But that seems for virtually all of us to be a process. In fact, when we first come to faith in Christ, we know there are some things which need changing—but probably not too many. A little remodeling here, a touch up there. A paint job. Nothing we can’t handle. No big deal!
But as God’s Spirit prompts us and we live close to the Lord, we begin to see more and more of the "old self" that needs not just a touch up, but a wholesale reconstruction. We find more and more of the structure of our lives, personalities, habits, and priorities that don’t fit any more the new life in Christ—they are ugly, or create dangerous conditions or are dysfunctional. This isn’t a weekend home improvement adventure after all. Its way beyond us—a little frightening in fact.
Paul in Ephesians 4 and 5 speaks of the new life as getting rid of things that do not "become our new faith, or do not "fit" any longer with our profession. Elsewhere he speaks of "throwing off" all that impedes our running the race. This new birth business is serious construction, calling for major engineering and design skills.
It is probably an aspect of the grace of God that He does not reveal to us all at once, in the beginning, the total dismantling and rebuilding that He wants to do in our lives and relationships—but section by section, He helps us see that our lives need more than an update or freshening. They need the creative, redemptive reconstruction that God enables through His spirit.
The final product: to be conformed to the image of Christ. Same address, new home.
May God continue to rebuild our lives—throwing out the old, and bringing the new, that passes not away.
Being confident . . . that he that has
begun a good work in you will perform it
until the day of Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 1:6
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This article [slightly edited] comes from the "No Higher Calling" devotional published by Advocates International, CLS' international sister ministry. Lynn Buzzard is a former professor at Campbell Law School and the former executive director of Christian Legal Society.