|Extreme Makeover: God Edition #2 - Dec. 7, 2014|
|Written by Steve Boose|
|Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:13|
Extreme Makeover: God Edition – Advent Sermon Series 2014
The Master Craftsman
December 7, 2014
So, last week, we started talking about how God working in our lives has some parallels to the TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
As I said, the point of this show is to take a house that desperately needs renovations that the family living in it cannot afford and do all the necessary work, possibly including starting from scratch, in no more than 7 days. Last week we talked about how, as in the show, how God knows us and calls us by name out of the shaky and broken-down wreck of our own lives without Him; second, He has us take an inventory of our lives to find all of our sins, all of our broken places and all of our problems so that we can give them over to Him, in order to proceed to the third stage, which is the demolition of the old in order to make way for the “new thing” that He is seeking to do in our lives. On the show, these three steps are taken on Day 1 and then on the morning of Day 2 of the renovation.
This week, I’m going back to what I was talking about with the kids last week: PLANNING! It’s hard to go forward without a plan! For something as complex as a house renovation (or reconstruction!), everything, from what is going to be done with the old house to how the new one is going to come together, has to have a plan. The Design Team only gets a few minutes of on-air time to show their initial planning stages, which usually involve a marker and a large sheet of craft paper and some rough sketches of how the house will be mapped out, but this is just the merest hint of what must be literally hundreds of person-hours of trying to figure out all the things that have to happen before anything is done to the house itself! I mean, someone has to take those sketches and put them together to make a set of blueprints for the contractor to work from, because you can’t just say, “Okay, this room is going to be 10’x15’ with a wall switch, three plug outlets, a door, a closet and a bed!” Someone has to arrange for the contractor, order the materials, measure them, cut them, install them, tweak them, clean them, and so on and so forth. I’m a homeowner myself, and I have learned through the years all about the thousands of little bits and pieces that are in my house that someone put there because they belonged there (at least, once upon a time), but which I didn’t know about until I needed to find them!
In any case, “The Plan,” however it turns out, will also provide the timeline that the contractor needs to keep to in order to keep things on-schedule – figuring out when the people are coming in to do foundations, plumbing, wiring, telephones, heating and cooling, plaster and drywall, woodworking and mouldings, landscaping and so on and so forth. When these people come to the job site, they have to know where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to be doing, and how long they have to get their particular job done! Even demolition has to be planned – you don’t just decide to knock down a house on a whim! You have to know what’s staying, what’s going, and what needs to be turned off in order to keep things safe when you start swinging sledgehammers or, as in the case of one memorable occasion, when you light the match that will be used to burn the place down! Having people stand around waiting for their next assignment isn’t any good – building a house in seven days requires extreme efficiency, and if people are standing around they are probably in the way of other people and will end up slowing down the whole process. Sticking to “the Plan” will, hopefully, avoid this.
Now, here’s the thing: there are actually two kinds of things, two types of “plans” that have to mesh together, whether you are building a house, a family, a life, or whatever.
First, there are what I am going to call the static elements – these are the things that must be, the things that cannot be moved, or else you undermine everything. Any engineer will tell you that you can’t just decide to take out something like, oh, a load-bearing wall, because you really, really want more windows there or something! Near one end of our basement is a pillar, which I know darned well is a jack-post with a decorative shell on it, and it’s holding up the floor above it. Part of me would like to get rid of it, but I know that I can’t – that pole is a static element of my house, one that cannot be moved or changed. And there are a lot of these “static elements” in our houses and, indeed, in our lives, whether we know it or not. They’re the foundations, the things supporting other things, and if they aren’t strong or get removed, very quickly everything else starts to come down, too!
Now, the second, and I must say the infinitely larger, set of elements are the dynamic ones, the things that we can change or make decisions about. For instance, when it comes to the house we may not like where that load-bearing wall is, but we can decorate it or paint it or do other things to it that at least make it pleasing to look at. That jackpost in my basement looked ugly on its own, so they clad it in a faux-wood pillar, painted it white, and made it look pretty nice. As “The Plan” proceeds in a house-building project, we may find that some things must change – for instance, a certain fuse may have added demands put on it, meaning that it has to be upgraded to allow things to function properly. Furniture, art, the style of cupboards in the kitchen – dynamic elements can change, provided that they are built upon the static ones.
Now, as I said to the kids last week, God has a plan for our lives, and it includes certain static elements, and certain dynamic elements. In Ephesians 1, we read this: “With all wisdom and insight 9he [that is, God] has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth…” In various places in the Bible, the word is plan, sometimes pledge, and sometimes promise, but in the end it’s all the same thing: God wants us to be brought together as a family in His sight forever, and created the channel for it to happen through His Son, Jesus Christ – this is a static element of God’s plan for His people, that only through His Son, Jesus Christ, can we come to know Him as Lord and Saviour, Father and Protector, Spirit and Sustainer.
Now, Jesus’ life also had certain static elements to it, things that had to be done in order for the Plan to proceed and be successful – for instance, He had to be tempted in the wilderness, and the human part of Him had to overcome Satan’s temptations in order to allow His divine nature to show forth; He had to die, betrayed and alone, in utter physical and spiritual agony, in order to be the sacrifice for the benefit of all humanity; and He would be raised on the third day to show all who would follow Him that God had conquered death with the promise of eternal life. Those were all static elements of His mission on earth, and they could not be changed because so many other things hinged upon or rested upon them being there.
But so many other things were dynamic about Jesus’ ministry. Pastor Rick Warren, as part of the study series, The 40 Days of Purpose, says at one point that he loves looking at the stops of Jesus, as opposed to His steps, because the stops were dynamic interruptions, spontaneous teaching opportunities and learning moments that, in an unintended, unplanned action, changed the lives of the people He touched. His way was prepared by John the Baptist, as had been foretold in Isaiah’s prophecies (yet another static element), but John only knew that the Messiah was coming – how, exactly, Messiah would impact upon the lives of the people of Israel and, ultimately, the world, was something that even John couldn’t see, that even Jesus couldn’t say for certain as He lived among us in our everyday, day-to-day lives!
You see, we have plans, too. Some people wake up in the morning and plan their entire day, or try to do it ahead of time (how many of us have a daytimer or “to-do list” going somewhere?). We have a whiteboard in our kitchen, and on days when Kathy and I intend to get work done around the house or errands run, things like that, we fill the board with notes that we then get to cross off when they’re done. Some things, like laundry, we’ve learned are never truly “done”, but we allow ourselves to mark, “Done the point of being able to be crossed off.” It’s the same with things in the office at the church. I have until Sunday morning at, oh, 10:00 to have a message ready to preach, but Sunday morning at 9:30, I’m in the pulpit at Limehouse, and Sunday morning at 11:00, I’m in the pulpit here. Those are “static elements.” How I get to all these things, however, is a dynamic process that can take as long or as little time as I choose.
Other people plan on a grand scale – I’ve planned out the general course of my sermons until June of this year, but I’ve had friends who have had up to five years of their entire lives planned, or even more. Other people set goals for their lives, realistic or not, that they treat as static elements, and then they are emotionally deflated when the dynamic elements of life conspire against them achieving those goals. We can plan all we want; just because we’ve planned it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen!
The same does not hold true for God, however. His plans always come through; the thing is, they come through in His time, not ours. In 2 Peter 3, we read this: “9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance…13… in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.” God’s ultimate plan for humanity has taken a lot longer than the Extreme Makeover Design Team’s 7 days to get even to this point; it’s been two thousand years since the birth of Jesus, and despite all the people who are thinking that He’s coming on the next cloud, the truth of it is that people have been watching for signs of Christ’s return for at least the past thousand years, and He hasn’t come back yet!
But He will!
2 Peter 3:10 contains this admonition: “10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.” Jesus Himself had said this to His disciples, and had admonished them to always “be ready” for that day, whenever it comes! For God’s ultimate plan is actually in motion; He knows where all the pieces are coming from, and He knows where He wants them to go! You and I are parts of His plan, and we have a choice: we can follow His plan, or we can try to follow our own.
Which static elements, which plan are you going to bind yourself to?
Or to God’s?
I can tell you which one will actually give you more hope, more peace, more joy, and more love, and it’s not the one you will come up with! As I’ve said repeatedly lately, God has given you a unique combination of gifts and talents, skills and abilities, wants, needs and attitudes, and He has given them to you so that you will be able to fill your place in His plan for the world. A wise director of dramatic productions once said that there are “no small parts, only small actors” – your part in God’s plans, no matter how large or how small it seems to be to you, is vitally important. And God wants you to fulfill that part, for yourself, for Him, and for everyone around you who needs to know that Jesus Christ is alive and well within your heart.
And so, friends, the Lord is the “Master Craftsman” – He has all the skills, has crafted all the pieces, and has planned the way He wants to see everything fit together in this, the world that He has given us. This plan is His alone – when Jesus was on earth, He said that it was not part of His mission to the world’s people to know the exact date of His return: it would come in God’s good time, at God’s pleasure. Our job, He said, was to be ready, to “live ready” so that if it should come in our lifetimes, we might not be caught either ignorant or unaware. As Peter went on to say, “14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…”
And so, we baptize, symbolizing the washing away of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who once came as the Child of Bethlehem; we baptize, and we come to the communion table, in remembrance of the gift of Jesus’ life, taken in our place as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. With these “static elements” firm in our hearts and minds, remembering what was done for us and what we may now do for others, we will stand against any “dynamic” problems or issues, both good and bad, which come into our lives and threaten to sweep us away.
For God’s plan is in motion, and His ultimate vision for the universe involves you and me, both.
The questions we must answer are: will we take our place, and will we do our part?
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:13|