Fixer-Upper

Cindy and I don’t watch a lot of television anymore.  But we record and watch a program called “Fixer Upper” all the time. 

On this program they buy tired old homes and fix them up.  Thus the name.  In the space of an hour you can see them take an old, sometimes abandoned house that hasn’t been occupied for years and make it into a Taj Mahal.   It takes place in Waco, a town I know very well, and the hosts are crazy, corny funny.  It’s a fun show for all those reasons.

But I think I've discovered the real reason I like this program so much.  My favorite stories on the show are when they take a truly old home, maybe 100 years old, and transform it.  They take a home that has been left for dead, for all practical purposes abandoned, and make it like new.  Some of these homes are falling apart, haven’t seen new paint in decades, have rotten floors and leaky roofs.... and they find a way to make them not only livable, but also incredible!

We have a word for that in the church.  We call it redemption.

Admit it.  You like a good redemption story, too.  Hollywood movie producers know we like redemption stories.  Think of how many wonderful movies have a redemption theme:  The Shawshank Redemption, Cinderella Man, Les Miserables, A Beautiful Mind, Gran Torino, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Or even:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Dickens’ Christmas Carol (I love the Muppet version myself.)  Then there’s Good Will Hunting, Rain Man, Groundhog Day, Hoosiers, The Natural, The Verdict.  And there’s even the Star Wars movies and Darth Vader....

We all love these stories.  We even sing them:

I once was lost,
but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

It’s a common theme at any church.  We talk about how Jesus takes our old lives and makes them new again.  We talk about how Jesus saves us from our sins, how his blood cleanses us and makes us new.  We talk about how Jesus’ redemption brings us salvation.  And those are all true words.  Jesus does indeed do all of that for us.  Thanks be to God!

But how does redemption work in your life?  Certainly Jesus has redeemed us for eternity.  Yet, how do we let Jesus redeem our todays?  A treasured mentor of mine talks about how we have to be redeemed each and every day.  You can consider that in one of two ways.  You can be discouraged that Jesus’ redemption has to be “renewed,” if you will, all the time.  Many of us would want to go ahead and get that redemption thing done and finished.  Or you can be encouraged that Jesus’ redemption is always available to us if we look for it.  It’s always available and will never run out.  Jesus stands ready each and every minute of each and every day to redeem us and join us on the journey toward his promised future.  One day at a time.  One step at a time.

There’s lots of evidence for this in Scripture, but I especially love the individual Psalms that address this issue.  Here’s my favorite:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,    
and all that is within me,    
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,    
and do not forget all his benefits— 
who forgives all your iniquity,    
who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the Pit,    
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy
Psalm 103:1-4

If Jesus’ mission to his creation is to bring redemption, then what does it mean to join him on the journey?  What if following Jesus means accepting his invitation to partner in the process of redemption?  Not just for us, but for others?  What would that look like?

Have you ever thought about how Jesus might use you to be his agent of redemption?  While we are certainly not agents of Jesus’ eternal redemption, doesn’t Jesus partner with us to bring redemption to his world each day?  Isn’t there someone whose path will cross yours today who needs to engage Jesus in some way?  Isn’t there someone who needs a warm smile, an encouraging word, or just a hug?  Isn’t there a relationship that needs you to deliver redemption?  Isn’t there a person along your way who needs to feel the transforming presence that Jesus only has you to bring?

How will you help someone replace the leaky roof of their life today?  Lay new tile on the kitchen floor of their soul?  Hang new sheetrock on the boundaries of their sense of identity?  Or just love them as you help them replace the foundation of their being?

May God give us the wisdom, the energy, the faithfulness, and the discernment to be his partners in “fixing up” his world.  Isn’t that what partnering with God to bring the Kingdom of God to Little Rock is really all about?

Charlie Fuller