“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It’s spring! The weather is getting nicer, and many of us have taken to the task of “Spring Cleaning.” Some are working on their yards and are clearing away the dead branches and the remnants of the winter months. Regularly, systematically, and purposefully, we move around the yard raking, picking up, and cleaning up. Soon there will be a pile of branches and debris ready to chip or have hauled away. Soon there will be a yard that’s clean and crisp—one that children can walk on in bare feet, and one that we can sit on the deck and look out upon while we eat our dinner without thinking about the work left to do on it. Things will soon be clean on the outside.
There’s more cleaning to be done than just what’s visible in the yard, though. How many of us will clean out the garage, too? The garage can easily become a receptacle for extra “stuff” during the winter, and now that spring is here, many of us will attack this area, as well, going through it purposefully and being fairly liberal with throwing away a number of things. When we’re done, our garages will be swept clean and put in order.
It takes the work of one outside of the conditions in which the yard and garage find themselves to come in and fix them. The garage can’t organize itself, and the yard can’t clean itself up. One who knows more than they do has to do the work of setting things right and putting things in order. Without that person, the yard and garage would not only remain in the states they are but they would continue to get worse.
We are a lot like the yard and garage, I think. For some of us it’s been a long “winter,” and we’ve been covered with a lot of debris and extra stuff other people have put on us. For some, we’ve been shoving more and more deep down inside of us, and we’re just now beginning to see the effects of letting so much stockpile inside. It’s time for a cleaning, both inside and out, and it’s going to take One bigger than we are to do it fully and properly.
It will take time (isn’t that irritating?). The results won’t be immediately visible on the outside (again, how irritating!). As the clutter inside is dealt with, our outsides will subtly change to reflect the new person we are on the inside.
It might be painful. Just ask the branches as they go through the chipper, or the extra stuff as it gets tossed into the trash!
No, it’s not something we can do on our own. It will take the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit moving deep within us. It will take a dying to the old, sinful ways, and a coming alive to the new life available in Christ. This new life came to us in our Baptism when the Old Adam was drowned and the new person emerged. It comes again and again every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, hearing and believing those life-changing, soul-saving words of the Savior, “Given and shed for you.”
In the washing we were born anew, and Luther urges us to remember that. In the Supper we lay at the altar all the clutter that needs to be dealt with and the sin from which we need to be cleansed yet again. We do so trusting Jesus’ promises to be there, not only in the bread and wine, but also in sending the Holy Spirit to us to do the work we cannot.
Since Jesus is willing and able to do that for us, then that must mean He thinks we’re worth it. If He thinks we’re worth it, then that must mean He loves us. If He loves us, then that must mean He meant what He said when He told us He was going to come back and take us to be with Him. If He plans on taking us Home, then we need the Holy Spirit to get us ready.
Come, Holy Spirit, and clean us from the inside out!
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