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Jan 07, 2018

Making all things new

Making all things new

Passage: 2 Corinthians 5

Speaker: Jon Graybeal

Category: Weekend Message

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Who here is willing to admit that they’ve made some new years resolutions? I have to be honest, I can’t say that I’ve ever made a new years resolution, I don’t know rather that speaks to my laziness or my fear of failure or a fear of the gym or my laziness, I just don’t make them. But, for those of us that DO make resolutions, I hope that today, Sunday, January 7th, 2018, I hope that being only 7 days in, I’m hoping that you can still say that you haven’t completely failed yet. Hopefully you haven’t already crashed and burned within the first week but the reality is that there are those of us that do. The hashtag #resolutionfail was recently brought to my attention and it was one of the hashtag bits on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. So I pulled together some of these #resolutionfails for you guys, check these out:

@corruptedturnip

my resolution was to read more, so I put the subtitles on my TV

@isabellersG123

my resolution was to make better decisions. Four days later I got stuck in a baby swing and had to call the fire department to get me out

@ischauf5

I promised to stop honking at people while driving so now I clap instead. If you see me applauding you, it means you messed up

@westy1112

my new years resolution is to give up twitter….so far so good

@worthyinc

my new years resolution is to be more positive and less sarcastic….like I won’t screw that up right away  

@abbydengel

my resolution January 1st was to lose 15lbs. As of today, I only have 20 more to go

Hopefully, if you’ve made New Year’s resolutions, you’re doing better than these folks.

And you know, the resolution thing. I’m as cynical as they come and often have my doubts about resolutions, but the more I think about it, its natural. As the old is on its way out and the new is on its way in, we gravitate toward change, and that’s a good thing. Resolutions aren’t bad, assessing our lives, the good and the bad and wanting to see different, better things is not a bad thing. We need more of that, not less of it. Why not start every quarter that way, every month that way, every day like that? You guys remember Lamentations, I know you love that book. Lamentations says “His mercies are new every morning”. We get a new year every day and that’s a good thing. Alright, enough about resolutions.

So last Sunday Scott stood here and he kind of put a bookend to our Advent season and next Sunday Jerry will stand right here and he will kick us off into a completely new series that will also kick off our home groups and so once again, here I am, in the middle of two seasons, in the middle of two series and so what shall we do? And as I thought about that question last night at midnight…kidding, kidding….I started at 10pm. But as I thought through what we might look at this morning and I as thought about this season, this new year and new calendars and new plans and new resolutions, I was reminded of how we are made new, how when we come to know and come to follow Jesus, this baby whose birth we just celebrated, when we come to know him, Scripture tells us that we are made new and so this morning we are going to look at 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, the whole thing, the whole chapter. So if you have your Bible open up to 2nd Corinthians, if you have the Bible app on your phone you can follow along there or the text will be on the screens as well. 2nd Corinthians chapter 5:

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore, all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

So quickly before we jump into the text, a little context on 2nd Corinthians, or 2 Corinthians as some like to call it. 2nd Corinthians was written by Paul and after Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, which we call……you guys are good, yeah 1st Corinthians, after Paul wrote his first letter he got word back that there was a little rebellion happening in the church and there were people saying:

“Who does Paul think he is?”

“Who is he to tell us what to do?”

“He has no authority over us.”

“Look at him, he’s always running into trouble, getting beat up and thrown into prison.”

And so Paul gets word that there is a group of people in the church who are essentially leading a little rebellion against him. Paul’s response to this little rebellion is 2nd Corinthians. Paul even describes his letter in chapter 7 as a “severe letter that I know will cause you sorrow”. In the letter, Paul is challenging the Corinthians, basically saying that rebelling against him and his leadership is essentially rebelling against the gospel itself. In regards to the claims that he’s weak, Paul reminds them in chapter 4 that there is treasure in jars of clay, that the outward might waste away but internally there is hope and renewal. Paul says, you’re looking at the wrong thing, he says sure I’m bruised and beaten and broken and I’m running into trouble, sure there is trouble and evil, but did you not hear how the Christ died? He was beaten and broken and hung on a cross. Brokenness and pain and sorrow are no more a sign of weakness, death didn’t win that day. Brokenness and pain and sorrow paved a way for redemption and reconciliation and salvation, hate and injustice and greed paved a way for love and peace and a hope of something new.

So that’s just a little context on this letter and that leads us to chapter 5, where we are this morning. For those among us of the more astute variety you might have noticed something right off the bat in the first two verses that I think is worth mentioning. Two weeks ago on Christmas Eve Jerry talked about the tent, he gave us the image of Jesus literally setting up a tent in our front yard and he encouraged us to wave to our front yard when we got home that day, to wave at Jesus because he has set up tent and moved into our neighborhood and then last week, New Years Eve, Scott talked about our bodies as temples, and how that represented the tabernacle, the place where God once dwelt now dwells in us.

And so here we are in 2nd Corinthians and in those first two verses, Paul makes reference to our bodies as an earthly tent, that our bodies are weak and broken and fragile, yet while weak and fragile and broken we are a vehicle for something powerful and profound, for something not of this old world, but of something new, we are a vehicle, a vessel for God himself. Paul is telling the Corinthians, look, I’m beaten and I’m tired and I’m worn down but I have something, I have a message that is greater than any beat down or shipwreck. I also think its interesting that Paul mentions our bodies as earthly tents, because Paul knows a thing or two about tents. Acts chapter 18 verse 3 we see that Paul was a tentmaker. Isn’t it interesting that Paul was in the business of making tents, earthly tents? Isn’t it interesting that Paul is also in the business of sharing a new message, a message that we are now tents in a sense, we are now something in which something can be housed, we are now something in which something can dwell, we are now something, we are now someone in which God, Christ, Spirit can dwell and when we are in Christ, we are (as Paul says) we are made new? So while we have this physical shell, this physical tent that will fade and break, we also have this physical shell, this physical tent in which God is able to reside and in which we are made something new all together.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, Jon, we’re made new, I’ve heard it before, I’ve read the verse but I sure don’t feel new, I feel like the same old me.” We often doubt that we can be made new, but things are made new, they are. Think about it, if you haven’t noticed it’s been a bit chilly here in central Indiana lately. Temperatures shouldn’t have a negative sign in front of them. But thank the Almighty God, these temperatures won’t last, soon enough the ground will thaw, the grass will be green again, the trees will start to bud and the flowers will push through the ground. This little guy will become this little guy and this little guy can’t crawl back into its cocoon and go back to being a caterpillar. It’s made new and it’s a new creation. My daughter Emma is here this morning, Emma come on up. Emma, or Em as we call her, was made new, trust me I was there. We didn’t find an old Em and make her again, she was made new. How old are you Em? 9 years old. We were all 9 years old once, we were all made new once and when we come to this Christ we are made new again, never to be the old self that we were. We’re continually being made new in hopes that we might bring a new message and a new hope to an old world that tells itself that being made new isn’t a possibility.

Paul, a Jew, knew the words of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun and yet here in his letter to the church in Corinth he says, “You are made new”. Saul was made new through this Christ and became Paul and Paul says that like him, you are made new and he can say that because something new has happened through this Christ and because something new has happened, something new must now happen as NT Wright puts it, “Something new must now happen through us”.

Which leads us to something else that Paul is hitting on in this text. Verse 18, God has reconciled us to him through Christ AND has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In light of our world, in light of the way things are in 2018, I’m not sure I want the responsibility of “the ministry of reconciliation”. I’m not sure I want to be in the business of reconciling in the world today. I look at it and think it’s too daunting, it’s impossible.

I look at the world and all its brokenness and think what in the world are we supposed to do, but then we’re reminded, Paul reminds us, that we have a message, a message that things aren’t always going to be this way, a message of a new creation, a message of hope and reconciliation.

The unwinnable has been won in Christ. The impossible has been made possible in Christ. And that’s the message we have to share, a new kind of message for a world that loves to wallow in the old. And it’s because of this new message, this new creation that I’m not as scared of racism, I’m not as scared of the problems in the world. I’m not as afraid of any situation that seems unwinnable, I’m not as afraid of any situation that seems impossible, because Christ has defeated the unwinnable, he’s defeated death and he has made the impossible possible.

On that note, lets not kid ourselves into thinking that starting with our hearts is too small. That’s what we’re called to do, that’s where the difference is made. In verse 19 Paul says that we are to be bringing the message of reconciliation to the world, we’re to be telling people that the impossible is possible and that the unwinnable is able to be won. I don’t have the answer to all the racial divide in our country right now, I don’t have the answer to the political mess in our world right now, I don’t have the answer to terrorism and shootings and abuse and harassment, I don’t know the right laws to make, I don’t know the answer to immigration but I do know that we don’t just have a race problem or a terrorism problem or a political problem, we have a heart problem and I might not have the answers to these things but I know the answer to the problem underneath them and you do too and we’ve been given the answers and the message as witnesses and ambassadors. So lets not kid ourselves into thinking that starting with hearts is too small.

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that giving this message of reconciliation to our neighbor is too little, that’s not the least we can do, it’s the absolute most that we can do and it’s what we’ve been called to do, so let’s do it. And what’s the message? What are we supposed to say to our neighbor? Verse 21, I’ve got the answer to the most impossible situation in your life, I have the answer to what seems like the most unwinnable situation in your life. Verse 21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That’s the answer, Jesus is the answer. Jesus, this baby that we just celebrated has made all things new. Don’t ever think that what you have to offer is too small, don’t ever think that what you have to offer is too little, the message that we have to share, this message of reconciliation is what brings about the new, this message is what brings a heaven to this broken mess of an earth and this message builds a new creation, builds a new kingdom. Not a kingdom of kings and queens but a kingdom of caring and selflessness, a kingdom of hope, a kingdom of love and kingdom of new beginnings and new creation.

The game isn’t over, through Christ we have the option to hit the reset button, to be made new and start again. 

Anybody remember this? (Nintendo) 

For my 8th birthday, my amazing parents gave me one of these. A Nintendo. I played my Nintendo night and day and I only had one game when I got it. Super Mario. I played Super Mario all the time. I rescued the princess over and over again. One of the most amazing features of the Nintendo was the reset button. It only had two buttons, power and reset. Side note, it also had this amazing feature when things weren’t working quite right that you could take the game out, blow on it, put it back in and it would work just fine. Not sure how or why that worked but it did. It created a whole generation of people my age that think if you just blow on it it’ll work again. When my phone’s not working, I blow on it and my daughter says, “Dad what are you doing?”, I say, “Don’t worry about it, this works”. Side note over, the Nintendo had two buttons, power and reset and if things weren’t going your way, you could just hit the reset button and it would start everything over, you got a new beginning. And I was thinking this week, how great would it be if life came equipped with one of those. Some of us today, could use that button, am I right? And so we often use January 1st as a reset button, this magical opportunity for things to be different, for things to change. Well, Paul is reminding us this morning that we have a reset button, we have a January 1st in this Christ. We have an opportunity to be made new because through this Christ something new has happened.

And so this morning, we remember that in Christ we are made new, this morning we remember that the impossible has been made possible that the unwinnable is now able to be won and how do we remember that, by coming to this table. By coming to this table, together and remembering a God that became a baby, a baby that became a man, a man that became sin so that in him we might become the righteous of God. Something new has happened and so something new must now happen, through him, living in us and through us bringing a message of reconciliation. And so we remember...amen.