Summary: This sermon speaks to the transforming power of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
“A NEW PEOPLE”
God’s Extreme Makeover
PASTOR BENJAMIN T. HAILEY SR
Union Baptist Church of Allentown
“A New People”- God’s Extreme Makeover 2Cor. 5:10-21
Introduction: There is an interesting television program that airs each week called Extreme Makeovers. It is interesting because the connotation of a makeover is nothing new or out of the ordinary. In fact, most ladies will testify that each and every morning, they experience a “makeover” as they apply certain layers of makeup on their faces. I have even encountered some people who say that they would not been seen in public without putting their face on first. Which leads me to say that if these individuals are so ardent in their desire to cover their faces, or provide themselves with a makeover; there must have been something intrinsically wrong with the original content in their minds eye.
I don’t believe that if one had no problems with how they looked, that there would be such a desire to be made over into something totally different. But such is the case with the show “Extreme Makeover”. The point of the show is to take an individual, and provide cosmetic surgery, makeup, hairstyle, and clothing that will cause this individual to go through a transformation, which gives them a totally different appearance… on the outside. And the thing about it is that they go through this transformation, because someone else has suggested that it was necessary, and has requested that it takes place. The person who is the subject of the makeover has no responsibility for the transformation, with the exception of his or her acceptance of this makeover gift.
Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a Biblical truth, with a twist. Because I hear the Bible saying to us that the writer of our text this morning, the apostle Paul was an individual not unlike the participants of the show, extreme makeover. You do understand Paul’s resume don’t you? Paul was the chief persecutor of the Church. He was the one who’s vocation it was to identify, extricate, extradite, and then incarcerate those persons who were followers of Jesus. Let me help you. Acts 9:1-2 says (Meanwhile Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.) But while this brother was on his way to operate in his opposition to Christ, verse 3 says (As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Who are you Lord? Saul asked, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, He replied. Now, get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.) This was the suggestion from Jesus, that Saul be given an extreme makeover. And the good news is that all Saul had to do, was determine in his mind that he would accept the fact that this was his opportunity to become a new person. I’m talking to somebody in here already. Because you know that for the first half of this year you have received suggestions that you become a new person. Oh it may not have been someone you know. It may not have been from a relative or church member, but all you know is that something has been telling you that you can be made new. Something has been prodding you to change your direction, so that you can change your destiny. Something has been pushing you to recognize that you cannot continue going down the path you’ve been going. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know you need to have an extreme makeover.
And I know that Paul is qualified to be the one to suggest to us that this makeover is possible, because not only did Saul stop persecuting the church as a result of Jesus’ suggestion for an extreme makeover, but also Saul’s makeover was such that it was more than a makeover. It was a transformation. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly. It was the changing of unrighteousness to the righteousness of God. It was the cleansing of a dirty vessel. Saul’s name was changed to Paul, and he became a new person in Christ.
Well, I know somebody is saying, yea preacher that sounds good, but you don’t know my story. You don’t understand how I came to be who I am right now. Your saying, everybody in the church is always talking about changing, but if I could change I would. My problem is I don’t know how to change. And if that’s you, then I came to help you this morning, because the context of this text begins over in 2Cor.1. Paul outlines his ministry to the Church at Corinth, and begins to let them know the difficulties of ministry. He says that ministry was so devastating that he despised life itself. (Let me park parenthetically here for a moment and say that whenever you try to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ, you are going to encounter opposition. You will face frustration. You will experience exasperation. You will develop depression and despair if you do not persistently pursue God’s purpose.) See, Paul says throughout the first five chapters that even though his ministry was difficult, he knew that the purposes of God were at work in his life, and because he knew God’s purpose, he said I understand that all these things came upon me that I might not rely on myself, but that God may deliver me. He says, I set my hope on him, and in your prayers, so that when I come out, we can testify that prayer changes things. Yall missed it. See, some of you right now feel like Paul in chapter one. You lost your job for ministering at work. You lost your husband, or wife for ministering at home. You lost some friends for ministering in their midst. You lost your children cause they didn’t want to hear about Jesus. Now here you are feeling despondent, and disappointed. Here you are feeling distressed and depressed. All because you were trying to do the right thing. Well, you need to learn from Paul. He says stop looking at the because of, and start looking at the in spite of. Paul continues talking about the because of issues of ministry in the context of the in spite of purpose of God. He says in the end of Chapter 3. Even though I have experienced problems because of my proclamation of the gospel, he says I don’t lose heart. He says even though I preach Jesus, and folk don’t want to hear me, and because they don’t want to hear me they bring false accusations against me, I don’t lose heart. And he says the reason is because I see the big picture. Paul says I know now that I am nothing, but what I also know is with Christ I can do all things. He says the reason folk dog me because of my position in Christ. is that their faces are hidden from the truth of God. And their minds have been made dull, because they have chosen to live in the presence of the past, and have not seen the light of the Lord. He was dealing with Jews who did not want to acknowledge the truth of God in Jesus Christ. These were those of whom Saul used to work. Persecuting the church of Christ. These were those who had not received the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, to enlighten them to the Way of God through Christ. And maybe that’s part of our problem today in the contemporary church. Maybe we have chosen to bury our heads in the sand, and believe that the Old Covenant is better, because we know what to expect. What are you saying preacher? I’m just saying that maybe in the church of 2007, we need more folk who are in spite of people, rather than because of people. Because of people will tell you that things are not going so well, and it’s because of this person. They will postulate that the reason their life is so out of control is because of the racism in America. The reason I can’t achieve my goals is because I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. The reason the church is not the same is because the pastor is not doing things the way I want him to. The reason I don’t come to church is because I want the old way back. And what happens is, not only do you feel persecuted because of what happens that you do not like, but you then become a persecutor because of whatever anyone that does not take your position does. But I want you all to understand that God is not looking for because of people, but God wants some folk to say like Paul said in Chap. 4 that in spite of the problems of dealing with people who don’t understand me. In spite of ministering to people who don’t want to hear it. In spite of getting dogged out for trying to help out. (We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed… Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.) In other words, Paul had an in spite of mentality, because he understood that trials and trouble on the menu for anyone who has received an extreme makeover, and has been made new.