An EPIC Christmas: Remake

Worship at Threshold was cancelled today due to winter weather. The following is a brief devotional based on the planned talk.

Our December theme has been the consideration of the Christ-story from the vantage point of epic films. Many epics are remade in a future generation, taking the same storyline and adapting it to a new generation or culture. So to, Christians are sinners who are remade by the grace of God…

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.   (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

In The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one meets Eustace, cousin of Edmund and Lucy, and a real snit. He cares only for himself and wants everything to be just so – that is, to cater to his own comforts.  However, as the Dawn Treader makes its way to one certain island, Edmund’s world is soon turned upside down.

Eustace stumbles upon a dragon’s lair, where those who have come before, due to their greediness and grumpiness (just like Eustace), have become dragons. (Note: the book treats this scene far different than the movie, unfortunately. I’m gonna describe the book version. You won’t see this in the film). C.S. Lewis, the author, says it like this: “He had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”

After many lonely days – it’s very hard to have human interaction when you’re a dragon – miserable and lonely, Eustace had an encounter in the middle of the night… with a Lion.

Aslan the Lion – the Christ figure of the Narnia Chronicles – came to Eustace in his dragonish state, and told him to undress and wash. Since he wasn’t wearing any clothes, only dragon scales and dragon skin, he realized Aslan meant for him to remove these. So Eustace began scratching himself, and the scales began falling off all over the place. Eventually, he scratched off all of the scales and began to walk into the nearby pool of water… only to find the scales there all over again.

After this happened three times, Aslan said to Eustace, “You will have to let me undress you.”

Eustace tells it like this: “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin and scales off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off… Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I had no skin or scales – and he threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that the pain had gone…

“After a bit, the lion took me out and dressed me.”

Once the scales were gone and he had been washed, Eustace was a new person.

Eustace’s experience should be familiar to any of us who are in Christ. Each of us, due to our sinfulness, are grumpy and greedy and want everything to go our way. We are all dragon-hearted. Satan, that ancient serpent and dragon (see Rev. 20.2) – when he had his way in the Garden of Eden – made little dragons out of us all.

But Christ the Lion has changed all that. Paul emphasizes this in 2 Corinthians 5.

Remember that before his conversion, Paul was very much like Eustace. He was a very legalistic Jew who hated Christians and was responsible for he persecution and death of many of them. Until the LION got a hold of him. In Acts 9, we read about the dramatic conversion of Paul. He was struck blind and heard the voice of Jesus calling him to a new life. After three days of blindness, the scales fell from his eyes and he was washed in baptism. And he became a new person.

And so he writes to the Corinthians: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

But the story doesn’t end with the new creation. Christ makes us new for a reason. We are to be His ambassadors.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

An ambassador is a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by a Sovereign to represent him on a mission.

You and I – if we are in Christ – are new creations. New people. The scales have fallen. The washing has happened. The eyes are open. And now, our lives are a mission. There are other scaly ones out there. Others who still struggle with the pain of a dragon’s heart. They need us.

we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Of course, we will be more effective ambassadors if we continue to keep ourselves free from scales. Though we have been undressed and redressed by the Great Lion, and washed and made new, those scales have a nasty way of showing themselves again and again. We have to be aware of the dragon’s constant influence in our own lives if we are to be the ambassadors we are called to be.

As you head into 2011, and consider a new year’s resolution, I invite you to take inventory of your scales. Which ones still show up too often? Which ones hinder your ability to be a mighty ambassador for Christ Jesus? Which ones wreck the integrity of your life as a Christian? Where do you still need to come clean?

Only the Lion could wash and dress Eustace. But Eustace had to allow it. And only the King of kings and Lord of lords can ultimately and fully change us. In some areas of our lives, it’s a constant battle. It hurts like mad at first, but only for a bit. But the key is, we must allow the Lion, the King, the LORD to have his way.

What scales will you let him scratch away in the new year, so that you can be a mighty ambassador of the Lord?

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