Summary: A sermon for Ash Wednesday.
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
When a couple have their first baby; a whole new chapter has opened in their lives, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Many, if not most parents can relate to this.
They have new responsibilities; everywhere they go, they see things with new eyes.
And when people who have lived in a small town, and in a house that still doesn’t have the amenities of modern times move into a large city and into a brand new home, there are no more trips out of the back door to get running water.
There are no longer piles of drying clothes all over the living room furniture...
…no, things have changed dramatically!
And when people move from one country to another they need to learn a new language.
New laws apply as well.
If you go on speaking the old language, and live by the old laws…it just doesn’t work!!!
But that, Paul implies is what the Corinthians are still doing.
They are called to be Christians, but they are still living as those who do not yet know Christ.
They are still looking at other people and at Christ from a worldly point of view.
So Paul says, “No, A Christian is a ‘new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’”
And as new creations in Christ…as “servants of God,” we are “dying,” physically like the rest of the world, “and yet we live on;” we are “beaten, and yet not killed…”, sometimes we are “sorrowful, yet [we are] always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
This is how radical it is when Christ becomes our all in all!!!
We are given the great privilege to see life as it truly is…
…Money has no real meaning or lasting value.
Fame and good looks are a flash in the pan.
Where you live and where you come from mean nothing!
All that matters is loving God and loving neighbor!
This might sound very strange to the world...
…it isn’t necessarily the way the world thinks or the way we used to think when we regarded other persons and even Christ from a worldly point of view…
…but now we are different, simply because of Jesus and Jesus alone!!!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
There was a tournament for women at a golf club, and the turnout was so big that the women had to use the men’s locker room as well as their own.
So, on that day, the men’s locker room was off-limits to men.
But eight year-old Joey didn’t realize this.
When he walked innocently into the men’s locker room, he was greeted with shrieks as the women grabbed for cover.
“What’s the matter,” Joey asked, “haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?”
And that is what Paul is basically asking the Corinthians in our Scripture Lesson for this evening, “What’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen a real Christian before?”
There can be no doubt that, in coming to worship on Ash Wednesday, we’re swimming upstream.
The fact that we’re here at all sets us apart.
The fact that we are here at all puts us at the foot of the Cross—at the total mercy of our merciful God!!!
This is where we die to self and live for God!
This is where we are crucified with Christ and rise with Him!!!
This is where our life becomes hidden in God!!!
This is where we joyfully and victoriously proclaim, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me!”
And the logic of this outweighs all other logic known to the human race!
It changes everything and gives people the power to face things and do things they wouldn’t otherwise have even dreamed of doing!
And this doesn’t come about because of some theory, its not because of the fear of judgment, it’s because of love!!!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes people who find themselves loved and sends them off to live and work in a totally new way!
Today marks the beginning of Lent.
And Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.
In the passage from Isaiah that I read from earlier, the people were fasting but they were doing this only so they would be noticed, and perhaps work their way up one more rung on the ladder or stairway to heaven.
But their fasting was worth nothing…
…they were still exploiting their workers…
…they were still spending their time “striking each other with wicked fists,” and quarreling with one another, and looking out for number one!!!