That Was Then, This is Now (Part 1)

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Dana Carvey’s comical portrayal of the quintessential “Church Lady” on Saturday Night Live always made me laugh out loud. Who has not come face to face with those frowning, tightly pursed lips, arched eyebrows, rolling big eyes and that pointed look of disapproval?

Most of my time living a lifestyle worthy of such a glare from the Church Lady came during my teens. It was easy for me back then to lump all Christians in with that T.V. character. Like the Church Lady, who likely had a fifth of vodka in her purse strictly for medicinal purposes, of course, churchgoers were nothing but a bunch of hypocrites who acted one way on Sunday and another way the rest of the week.  It was ridiculous that those people had the gall to tell me how I should live my life. Get the log out of your own eye before you start examining my eyes for a speck of dust.

After I came to the Lord, I grew to understand that not all Christians are like the Church Lady. In fact, while there are Church Ladies in every church, they are few in number. Most people who go to church are just like me and you – sinful. We want to be kind and compassionate but sometimes we are not. We make mistakes, hurt and disappoint people and struggle with sin, but our goal is the same: to follow the example of Christ and do the next right thing. Christians share a common past with those who don’t follow Christ, as we too, were once governed by our flesh and not by the Holy Spirit.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world….All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.” Ephesians 2:1-3.

Cleaning up our acts takes the Holy Spirit a lifetime. Unfortunately, there is no instant sanctification. Fortunately, God doesn’t quit on us. As we continue to study God’s word and apply it to our lives, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process of growing up in our faith. Do we still miss the mark? Daily. Do we occasionally get it right? Yes. Do we fall and get back up again? Absolutely, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16.

 “And we all…are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Thank God he has never and will never give me the stink-eye like the Church Lady. He may shake his head at my stupidity on occasion and mourn my poor choices, but his lips are curved into a smile of acceptance and his eyes twinkle with incomprehensible love and patient understanding.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5.

 “I pray that you…may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:18

God stands in the window of heaven and waits in anticipation for you and me to turn back home toward him. When we do, God runs toward us, scoops us up in his arms and shouts, “Woohoo! Crank up the tunes and let’s get this party started!”

Here’s a song I am sure is on God’s playlist. Find it on YouTube and put on your dancin’ shoes:

That Was Then, This Is Now

by Josh Wilson

We used to hide from the light
We made friends with the night
We were headed the wrong way on a one way track
Going nowhere fast

We got used to the dark
We thought this is who we are
And we figured that we were just too far gone
But we were wrong

‘Cause love came running like a river
And we got washed in the water
Then He said you’re forgiven
Your sins are gone

That was then, this is now
You’re bought by the blood, saved by the Son the saints all sing about
That was lost, this is found
And it’s time to say goodbye to the old you now

So go ahead, put the past in the past
Box it up like an old photograph
You don’t have to go back
‘Cause that was then and this is now

We’ve been remade by grace
We’ve all got new names
And nothing we do could ever change
What He did that day

When love came running like a river
We got washed in the water
Then He said you’re forgiven
And you belong

That was then, this is now
You’re bought by the blood, saved by the Son the saints all sing about
That was lost, this is found
And it’s time to say goodbye to the old you now

So go ahead, put the past in the past
Box it up like an old photograph
You don’t have to go back
‘Cause that was then

If we turn and confess every unrighteousness
He is faithful and just to forgive
Oh, so turn and confess every wrong and regret
And see what it means to live

That was then, this is now
You’re bought by the blood, saved by the Son the saints all sing about
That was lost, this is found
And it’s time to say goodbye to the old you now

So go ahead, put the past in the past
Box it up like an old photograph
You don’t have to go back
‘Cause that was then and this is now
‘Cause that was then and this is now!

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