Summary: A sermon about growing into the image of God.
“Old Clothes, New Clothes”
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego recently came out with a study showing that, supposedly, people and their dogs often look alike.
In the study, a panel of judges was able to match 16 out of 25 pure bread dogs with their owners.
The reason for this, researchers say, is because dog owners tend to choose a pet that bears their resemblance in some way.
The study identified similarities between pets and people such as physical characteristics or personality traits or both.
According to the study, happy, outgoing, and affectionate dogs tend to be owned by warm and friendly people.
Grumpy, snarly, pop-eyed, pug-nosed pooches tend to…well you get the idea.
When the Chicago Sun-Times ran this story, they included pictures of several people and their dogs.
It’s said that Actress Fran Drescher’s dog, Chester, has a similar hair-do as its owner.
And a picture of J. Edgar Hoover with his boxer were eerily similar.
In any case, in our Scripture Lesson for this morning, the Apostle Paul is writing to a new church—a group of Christians.
He’s writing to folks who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior—people who are already saved.
And he instructs them to “Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it.”
In other words, those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are kind of caught in something we could refer to as an “already” and a “not yet.”
In Colossians Chapter 2 Paul tells this congregation, “You were buried with [Christ] and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead,” and “you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts….”
But, obviously, even though we have died with Christ, and our lives are now hidden in Him, the journey is not yet over—it has just begun.
The “already” is where we are now in Christ—the “not yet” is where we will someday be…
…when Christ comes again, and there is a new heaven and a new earth; a completely transformed reality.
In the meantime, we are to learn be conformed more and more into the image of our Owner, the One Who has purchased us with His Blood!!!
Way back in Genesis 1:27 we are told that “God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.”
But of course, that image has been blurred and distorted due to sin.
We have a flawed relationship with our Creator, but through Christ we are being restored in the image of the Creator which makes it possible to live life as it was originally intended to be lived.
Imagine that, you and I, all of us were created in “God’s own…divine image”!!!
And that image is being restored through our daily walk with God as we “take off the old human nature,” like an old filthy rotten set of clothes and “put on the new nature” which is like being dressed in a new wardrobe where everything is custom made by our Creator, with God’s label on it.
As Eugene Peterson’s The Message puts it: “for this new life of love, dress in the clothes God has picked out for you.”
What could be more exciting?
And as we see in our Scripture Lesson, Paul writes that in the image of God which is the focus of our renewal, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things in all people.”
That means that the old way of categorizing people into classes and labeling people is being thrown out the window!!!
When this letter was written, Jews divided humanity into the categories of Jews and Greeks or Gentiles.
The Greeks divided people into Greeks and barbarians.
The barbarians were people who didn’t speak Greek.
And if you didn’t speak Greek you were considered to be uncultured and uncivilized.
And then there were the Scythians.
The Scythian tribes that lived around the Black Sea were thought to be the lowest kind of barbarian…
…they were considered to be just a “little better than wild beasts.”
What kind of categorizations of human beings are there today?
If Paul were writing this letter to us in 2012, what kinds of classifications would he mention?
What kind of categories?
Here, it is made clear, that categorizing and putting one group of people over and above another is sin—it is something that is done by the “old nature,” the part of our humanity that has lost its way…
…the part of our humanity or nature which we are called to “take off” like an old, raggedy, filthy, good for nothing set of clothing!!!