Summary: Sermon examining the doctrine of the Exchanged Life
Have you ever laundered money?
I am not talking about the money laundering done by some drug dealer who might be trying to cover the trail of their ill-gotten gain. I am talking about actual laundering money – taking one’s hard earned cash and sending it through the agitation and rinse cycles of a washing machine.
Have you ever done that?
I have. When I was a freshman in college, I accidentally washed a twenty-dollar bill. I found it the day after I washed my laundry when I slipped on my blue jeans. It reached in my pocket and found a waded up mess that turned out to be a twenty-dollar bill. It became an even bigger mess as I tried to unwrap it and ended up tearing it into five or six pieces.
Now understand that twenty dollars then was a lot more money then than it is now – and it was particularly a lot of money to a poor college freshman.
I did the best I could to repair the damaged bill with a roll of Scotch tape. Some of the pieces were missing, turned to dust I suppose as the blue jeans went through the hot air tumble dryer.
Once I had put all the pieces back together as best I could, I went to the campus bank and handed it to the teller. She looked closely at the bill and then looked back at me with a smile on her face. “You’d be surprised how often something like this happens!” Then she placed the beaten up twenty-dollar bill in her cash draw, and handed me a nice, fresh, and crisp twenty-dollar bill.
Do you know what happened to the old, beaten, and abused twenty-dollar bill?
You probably already know that when banks receives currency that has been worn out, abused, misused, agitated, and/or mutilated, they remove it from circulation and send it back to the US Treasury to be incinerated. That’s what happened to the money I laundered. It was taken out of circulation and incinerated. However, that is not the end of the story. You see, I was able to take part in a great exchange. When the bank teller removed my bill from circulation, they replaced it with a fresh, crisp new bill.
That was a great exchange – but when I read the Book of Romans I read about an even greater exchange. God takes our old life out of circulation and replaces it with the life of Christ. The gospel is not about being changed – but exchanged. It’s not about being fixed up, but replaced.
I know this is hard for us to accept this, but the Bible makes it abundantly clear that what we have to offer God is actually pretty worthless! Our lives are like that twenty-dollar bill that has been through the agitate, soak, rinse and repeat cycle of the washing machine. We enter this world in sin and the effect is that before God our lives are battered, bruised, mutilated, and beaten. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 3:1-18.
Whether we want to hear it or not, we possess nothing that God needs. If we think otherwise, we are fooling ourselves.
So what do we try to do? We engage in some cosmetic fixes to try to convince ourselves and those around us that we are special.
We gather all the little pieces of scraps that make up our lives - we try to arrange them in a manner that seems best - and we grab a roll of tape in order to try to paste it altogether. When we have finished our little repair project we are disappointed to discover that many of the fragments are missing or in the wrong place.
I was looking through some old high school and college yearbooks earlier this week. My attention was drawn for a moment to my own senior class picture. I have to say that I looked good in that picture. What you can’t tell is that I had a great big zit right in the middle of my forehead.
Here’s what happened. When the photographer developed the picture he was able to do some cosmetic retouching to remove the appearance of the skin blemish. The zit was still there – right in the middle of my forehead. But you can’t see any indication of it in the picture.
That’s what we try to do with our lives. We employ some type of emotional, social, psychological, or spiritual cosmetics to our lives in an attempt to convince ourselves, or those around us, or maybe even God that somehow we have something of value to offer. We look at what ails us and believe that a change of venue, or a new set of clothing, or some better class of contacts will somehow fix what is broken. We are only fooling ourselves.