“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” II Cor. 5:17 (HCSB)
I’ve been pastoring Forest Avenue now for over 6½ years, and during that whole time we have been in a building project. It involves the complete gutting of our old sanctuary that was built during the Great Depression. A lot of work went into this old building over the years. Many people sacrificed greatly to see it built, and even now many have sacrificed to see it restored to to be used again.
Sometimes it’s just great to be able to reuse something old. As a preacher, I’ve used a lot of building metaphors over the years with my congregation, and their pretty used to it by now. But I was thinking today about how the Lord takes us, our old sinful man, and how he has to do a complete gutting and restoration in us.
The first part of any remodeling job is demolition, and we here at Forest Avenue know a ton about demolition. It is the part that has taken almost six years to do. We’ve thrown away, given away, sold, and made crafts from more wood than you can possibly imagine. We ripped out so much of it over these last six years. It took us a long time with many volunteers from all over Grayson County, and even the U.S. to do it.
God has a way of getting rid of our old sins as well. He gave us his Son Jesus. Jesus bore our sins in his body, and he did so not so that we could return to them like a dog returns to its vomit, but so we could be made into a new creation. The demo process is necessary so that the old doesn’t get in the way of the new. Maybe you are in the middle of a demolition project that is going on in your heart. You feel as if God is ripping out things that aren’t supposed to be there. It’s hard, its painful, and believe me blood, sweat, and tears seem to flow easily during this ripping up of the old nature. Let me encourage you though that God only disciplines those whom he loves. This demo in your heart is proof that you’re his child, and that you belong to him.
The next phase is the structural phase in any major remodeling project. Floors are built if needed, and new walls are positioned where they need to be. Structural supports are added to any weak load bearing wall. The Lord often has to strengthen us with the foundational aspects of his word. Jesus is our firm foundation, and there are two major ways he reveals himself: through his Holy Spirit and through his word. Every Christian needs the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian needs the foundation of God’s word. Your house must be built not on the sinking sand of feelings and emotions, but on the solid rock of God’s presence and God’s voice. His spirit and his words will sustain you when everything else is falling apart.
The new creation and the new remodel begins the same way. Just as the carpenter takes the old bones of a building, and makes it brand new, so God takes the old man, and breathes his life into us. He rips out what is sinful, and puts his spirit in us. He gives us his word, and nothing is as beautiful as when the Lord speaks and creates out of nothing. You see this isn’t a DIY job (Do it yourself). You can’t change yourself. You need the help of the master carpenter. You need Jesus to come in and make you new. A lot of people try to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but without help none of us can do it alone. “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over in vain.” Psalms 127:1 (HCSB)
I’ve learned over the years that many hands make light work, and that we need each other. We need to encourage one another, to help each other, and bear each other’s burdens. No man can do it alone. I’m thankful for Christ who is closer than a brother to all who call on him. He is Savior, and friend, master and teacher, Lord, and yes he is still a carpenter. He is building in me something brand new. He is tearing out the old to breathe his life in me, and he is also preparing me a home in heaven. My next home is not built with human hands, but with the nail-pierced hands of my Savior Jesus. This old man is thankful every day for the One who makes all things new. Make it your aim to build your life upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ who loves you and gave himself for you.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the Panhandle of Texas. He loves preaching and pastoring on the southside of Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years, and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.