Play For the Song, part 2
This week, I preached on "playing for the song". The lesson for musicians, athletes and, well, everyone, was that we are called as Christians to do what is needed, not necessarily what we desire. It's a hard lesson to learn. The main passage of the sermon came from 2 Corinthians 5:17, where Paul writes, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." The sermon is a part of our Uplift series, and I can think of few more uplifting verses than this one. It's wonderful to have this kind of hope in our lives, but as we discussed on Sunday, being a new creation comes with some responsibility. The other passage we talked about was the greatest and second greatest commandments. It's easy to forget just how revolutionary these two commandments were at the time they were given. To both the religious establishment and the secular world, loving your neighbor as yourself was a new concept. It meant that everyone you came into contact with was to be loved just like you love yourself. And assuming that you care and love yourself (at least in a healthy way), that sets a fairly high bar for how you love those around you.
It's really a filter for everything you say and do. If you wouldn't do something to yourself, you shouldn't do it to someone else. On the other hand, if you would do something good for yourself, you should be willing to do it for someone else. When it's phrased in this way, it's quite a difficult commandment to live out because we all, in our various ways, can be selfish. What's great about this commandment is that it equalizes that playing field: how can we be selfish if we are giving as much to others as we do to ourselves?
During the sermon, I talked about how many actors and musicians have changed their names and appearances to become the stars that we know today. In the same way, someone who is a new creation should be different from the way they were before their transformation. This doesn't mean we're all of the sudden in a state of total transformation, but rather our desire to strive for God's goals and God's desires make us go in a totally different direction. The Living Bible translates the passage immediately after 2 Corinthians 5:17 this way: "The old things have passed away; behold new things have come." Sometimes as believers we wrestle with clinging to the old things because they feel comfortable, they feel like home. But our home isn't here or now. Our home is there and then, in a new place at a new time yet to be revealed. In fact, Jesus is right now preparing a place for us to reside with him forever. New things, indeed, have come, and are yet to come.
So, when you struggle with your faith, take heart. Take heart that you are struggling with it at all. Because within that struggle you are becoming a new creation. That's how it happens. If you were always stagnant, and everything was at a standstill, you'd never be spurred on to move and become something else. Becoming a new creation isn't necessarily easy. Transformations rarely are. But they are necessary to become something other than what you've been. In Christ, you are continually becoming something other than what you were. You are becoming closer, better, striving toward a goal of spiritual maturity in grace and love and kindness. So, again, take heart. Whether you may be aware of it or not, God is still moving, still transforming, still doing amazing things in and with you.