Extreme Makeover

I've known about make up for years. I've had a mom, a sister, a wife, a daughter. Some things therefore, there's no avoiding. The mirror, the mopes-if-things-don't-look-quite-right. The wait. I've been to the department stores and the malls, passed all those cosmetic and perfume counters, which, to a significantly allergic male, are like a guided tour of the fourth hot furnace of hell. 'Been there. 'Done all that. Wouldn't you think I'd be prepared? But I was not. Not at all. Not when I sat down the other night to actually watch the show. Months ago, its title had caught my attention for this morning's sermon. So, I thought I'd better watch at least 15 minutes of… "Extreme Makeover".

The other night, I watched. 'Just sat there with my mouth open. There were eye surgeries, cheek lifts, chin changes. 'Skin peels, dental work, hairline enhancements (OK, they had at least one good idea). 'Stuff added in places preachers blush to mention. And more other stuff sucked out or siphoned off than I could quite imagine. AND ALL THIS IN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES! Beverly called me back for the last 5 minutes to see the great "reveal". Folks said their lives were forever changed. AND YET… for all the skin-deep drama and prosthetic prowess of the plastic surgeons and the dazzling dentists, nobody experienced a "sinechtomy". None were cleansed of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed or sloth. (The big 7 are still "the big, the bad and the deadly".) The show took 'em all to Hollywood and Rodeo Drive. But there was no evidence anybody took a single step of Spirit Walk. Eyes were re-contoured but no eyes were opened to see this world in a new way, much less the next, a real possibility. So, you know what? I came away convinced this "Extreme Makeover" wasn't so extreme afterall. For that, you can't just jet to California. You gotta journey t'ward Jerusalem. Climb with Christ t'ward Calvary and the cross. And then look back, like the gospels do, like Paul does. There's a revealing that truly leaves us "Made over"! Made new!

Don't buy the lie! Our Lord Jesus says that. Paul his apostle, too. Don't buy the lie we're worth how we look.
It just isn't so. Give up on that idea and you'll be made over in the extreme! For all the parts added and left behind on this show, nobody left behind the lie that we are… how we look. Without that, most makeovers are at best, temporary. Madeover isn't really made new unless it's from inside out. I know of only one physician, one stylist, one designer who really does that. His work is featured exclusively at Chez Jesus, the church, with outlets… all over.

Don't buy the lie. These girls (scouts) here with us today get at least one message to share every day. That how you look means, well, everything. They're not alone. We all get the same word. TV, magazines, pop music, school, work. Even church (Oh, the 8, 9:30 & 11:00 dress codes may be different, but dress slacks or denim, we're programmed to look a certain way to signal we belong.) We pull in, pop out, roll up, push up, turn under, highlight, color, tint, tailor, girdle, accessorize, bling, bling and sing "it's your thing"…. And all because we bow to the idol of a false idea. That who we are, what we are, what we're worth, we can see in the mirror. A thing of the outside, not from within. We didn't invent this; we've just tried to perfect it in our time. But it's as ancient as Jesus' time and more.

"Let the children come," he says. "The Kingdom belongs to them. Accept me, accept heaven, as they do, or not at all." It sounds so sweet. So lovely, meek and mild. It was not. Legally, children were like property then and there. They may have been loved, but had no recognized economic or social status. That was also true of the women who brought them to Jesus' knee. Tell folks that in God's eye these are the most valued of all and everything is turned upside down. Worth is not as it appears. Not the size but the soul matters. Not the package but the person. Not the face but the faith.

The rich young ruler comes on the run. "Eternal life. What must I do?" That's the question. Listen to Jesus' answer. "The Commandments, yes." (The original Top Ten List!) Mostly don'ts. What we must not do from our insides to contain what we'd like to do on our outsides. "No problem," the fella says. "More", says Jesus. "Give all you have to the poor. And you'll get all God wants to give." Augh! "This is messed up," the fella believes. He's been taught all his life. How much you have's a sign of how good you are and how much God loves you. Jesus turns the spiritual sock inside out and says this is the side that counts! The inside. And the capper… Jesus says, "Follow me!" "You won't be in control, I will," he says. Every bit of self-importance fades. Appearance appears to matter not at all. It's not designer duds, it's your Maker's mark that matters. You can't put it on, or make it up. You can only let it shine through. That's the truth that makes us new.

A real, lasting spiritual makeover's just waiting for us all. And all we need to see it is to walk with Jesus toward the cross. Allow me to share with you a little secret. I've learned it listening to folks for over 30 years in the pastor's office. Peel away all our psychic make up. (What's in our heads, not just on our faces.) Stand us in our spiritual stockin' feet so we're no taller or shorter than the good Lord made us. Catch us at a moment when we have no wrap to shelter us from the winter winds of the soul… and most folks fall in either of two groups. Those who feel like, "If you only knew me, you'd really like me," and those who feel, "If you really knew me, you wouldn't." Most all of us, a lot of the time, either feel down deep we have something to prove, or something to hide. We feel cut off at some level from each other. And from God. When the Bible speaks of us living in sin, it's this condition it describes in good measure, beyond all the petty behaviors that reveal this inner truth. All 7 of those deadly 7 sins relate to this condition, one way or another.

Make no mistake; Jesus will walk all the way to Jerusalem (and to all that happens there) with people just like this, just like us. And the startling thing is, he does it anyway. In fact he does it just because he knows it's so. And he talks with the disciples and the crowds, the women and the men, the believers and the doubters, the wicked and the wanderers all along the way. And he labors to help them see their value, their worth, their standing, their place, their image in the heart of God. And he offers them, no, he offers us, a looking glass in which we've never seen ourselves before. It's the cross. Gasp! It's the choice he makes to endure it. It's the declaration that you and I are worth it. All of it. You are. I am. We are. Just the way we really are down deep, fully known. From him, no secrets are hid. And he loves us nevertheless. And never with reservation. Oh my, see this, learn this, know this, feel this, embrace this, and we are made new. Really new. This isn't a nip and a tuck. This isn't a new hairline; it's a new lifeline.

In Jesus we find a new looking glass and a new outlook. In him the extreme is not just amazing; it's eternal! Paul says it like this in plain English, "We believe what God has decided: one man died for us all. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so everyone could be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Savior that way once and got it all wrong. Not any more! Now we look inside, and see that anyone united with the Savior gets a fresh start, an extreme makeover! The old life's gone; a new life's born. Look, all this comes from God who settled his relationship with us and called us to settle our relationship(s) with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Savior, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sin(s). And now, God's given us the task of telling everybody what he's doing with Jesus on the cross. We're Christ's representatives, his agents, his advance team. God is using us to persuade everyone to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right on earth and with heaven. We are Christ's voice and Christ's life, saying to everybody, "Become friends with God. He's already a friend to you." (II Corinthians 5: 16-20, Peterson, alt.)

Wouldn't you like to be one of those lucky (even blessed) ones selected for an extreme makeover? Good news! You already are! Jesus says so with the cross. Now the only question is, "Is the face that you see in the mirror, the one you want others to see? Do you show in the way that you walk in your life the love given you and me?" Oh, I'm struck by these lines young Joy Williams sings, and I wonder if we ourselves could sing to Christ, "My heart's desire is to be like you in all that I do, in all that I am…. It's amazing that you'd ever use me, but use me the way you will, help me to hold out a heart of compassionate grace, a heart that your spirit fills. May I show forgiveness and mercy, the same way you've shown it to me…. I want to show the world who you are, the reason I live and breathe, so you'll be the One that they see, when they see me."
IF we are in Christ, dear friends,
We ARE a new creation.

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