God’s Schematics, the Hope of our New Life in Christ
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ convince you of the transformation that is making in your life.
It’s nearly 25 years since professional sports underwent a radical change in America, because of a partial quote. A professional basketball player named Charles Barkley was quoted in 1993, saying, “I’m not a role model, just because I dunk a basketball.”
Like many quotes of the man named as “Sir Charles” (and quite a few other people, it was taken apart by the media. Many thought that he was saying he wasn’t responsible for living a life that others look up to when he was saying that parents should be the role models for their kids.
It didn’t matter, people accused him of not living up to the responsibility he had as a public figure. After all, many of us grew up with sports heroes, or military heroes, or even political heroes. Since then, the short comings of many of the potential heroes of our children have felt no compulsion to be a role model.
Not just athletes, though, just about every vocation you imagine has determined that they are not to be a role model.
It’s why I reluctantly preach on the passage today from the epistle reading.
It’s a scary thought to preach this,
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine and learn from those who follow our example.
It is a heavy burden to be a role model, whether it is too a nation, a congregation, or to a child.
Even more, when what we are to model is a life that encourages them to strive to live a life God would call righteous, to live apart from sin and shame, a life where we love. A life where we even love our enemies.
How many of you are comfortable with people imitating you, when they will be judged by God for what they did, and didn’t do?
How many of you are comfortable with people imitating your faith, and the holiness of your thoughts and words? Knowing that they will be responsible for those thoughts and words before God?
NO wonder people don’t want to be role models…
The problem is that we are, and there are two kinds of role models out there.
The first kind Paul weeps over, and that gives you a hint about what the second kind is like.
He talks of their conduct being such that they are enemies of Jesus. That they are on the course to destruction, on the road to hell. What is their crime? What is so evil about them?
Paul says their god; their idol is their appetite, not just as in what is for lunch, but their need to get what they want when they want it. Whether it is food, or power, or sex, or money. They consume, and use what they consume, rather than bless others with it.
He goes on to say that they brag; they are focused on shameful things, disgraceful things. This is a little different than just desire because you can focus on things that are bad, not to enjoy them, but to condemn those who are caught up in them. You get obsessed with evil or the conspiracies. We can actually be obsessed with what we hate, to the extent that our desire to be free from it enslaves us.
The last thing that identifies someone as heading for destruction and hell is that they can only think about life on earth, they live for the moment, to enjoy life to its fullest because they don’t know anything else. They can’t even imagine that life has eternal consequences, and that means that life is a do what feels good, or do what you think is correct. This is the ultimate form of idolatry, as we put ourselves, our feelings, our logic and emotion as the final judge of what is right, and what is wrong.
It is these people that too often become role models because the burden seems to great, and those who should abdicate the responsibility.
The Grace of Transformation
Paul doesn’t leave us in that position; there is another group of people, those who have learned to follow Paul’s example, even as he followed the example of Jesus.
They are people who realize being a good example, being able to encourage others to imitate you, is not because your that good. Rather it is because they need the hope you have found as God works in your life and through your life.
The hope of God coming to us, in our weakest, most sinful state and changing us, I love the word for the how God takes and changes us.
God changes our schematics, our wiring our blueprints. Last week we talked about repentance being a change of mind, this week scripture talks of God changing us at a level that is so deep and so simple. He changes us at a level that changes not just how we act, but how we think, subconsciously, consciously, how we plan and how we react.
This is what we need; we need to be that transformed, and God is working on it. That is why Paul talks of us patterning our lives, living in symmetry with him, even as he lives in symmetry with Christ Jesus. This is what happens at the cross, as we died with Christ, and as we come alive in Him.
God is the potter; we are the clay. He shapes us, transforming us from brokenness to Christlikeness, from concerned only about today, to living our life in expectation of our reunion with Him in heaven. The Holy Spirit brings about these promises in our lives, as both God’s word and sacraments reveal to us His love, His promise, His faithfulness. That is what He does when He changes our schematics, when He brings us to repentance. When He makes us role models for those who will follow us, not because of any other reason than we trust Him to keep His promises.
This is why we are here; this is why we invite people, to see God give us hope, to transform us, to make us like Jesus.
Which is why we worship and praise Him. AMEN!