Snow on the ground while there are still so many leaves on the trees, I mean.
The trees haven't finished preparing for their winter sleep, but the blanket is laid down anyway. It doesn't look the way it should. The trees are supposed to shed their old leaves first, and then they are ready to be covered in the crisp, white snow.
I was on my way to the grocery store today, and it takes about 15 minutes to get there. There are a lot of trees, and right now there is also a lot of snow [some reports say we got about 25-30"!]. As I was thinking about how 'not-right' the whole scene was, I started to think about why.
I think it bothers me so much because it's not the way the cycle is supposed to go. There is supposed to be death: the leaves die and fall off of the trees. Then comes the quiet layer of snow before the springing forth of new life. There's not supposed to be so much overlap. The leaves aren't done dying and falling away before they are buried in snow.
But there was a deeper reason that it bothered me, that really had little to do with the leaves, weather, seasons, or trees at all.
How many times have professing Christians (such as myself) not "looked right?"
The Bible says that if we are in Christ, the old is gone (dead to the power of sin) and we are made new (alive in Christ). There is no room for "overlap". You cannot be partially dead to your sin nature and be mostly new in Christ. It doesn't "look right" to the rest of the world.
You're overlapping if you still laugh at crude jokes but sing praise songs.
You're overlapping if you're watching shallow reality TV but also watching wholesome family movies.
You're overlapping if you yell at your kids but encourage your Christian friends.
You're overlapping if you give money to 'good causes' but inwardly mock someone who looks/acts different than you.
You're overlapping if you would do anything for your parents but roll your eyes at your husband when he asks you to do almost anything.
...and so on. You may be able to fool the people in your church that you're doing pretty well but unbelieving people can pick up that hypocrisy about 10 miles away, and it does no good for your testimony nor for their chances of really being introduced to Jesus (at least, by you).
[By no means I am trying to imply that I have this down pat. In fact, this is much of the refining work that the Lord has been doing in my heart lately - am I rendered dead to sin and to the things of this world even when no one else is around, or am I content to let my facebook posts make me look great while I'm off watching a movie that does not glorify the Lord, or while I'm barking at my kids for making honest mistakes, or entertaining injurious thoughts toward Will because he's just asked me to do something that I wasn't planning on doing today? Friends, I am learning this, too. I write to encourage you to walk the narrow road and exchange the rubbish of the world for the beauty of worshiping the Lord in His holiness!]
Stop trying to make it seem like people can follow Jesus and still look cool. They can't, and neither can you. Being alive in Christ means being dead to everything that the world thinks is really worth paying attention to.
You're not going to make people want to follow Jesus by trying to look as much like everyone else as possibly except that you do your devos and go to church and you 'protect' your kids by not letting them watch PG-13 movies. People are transformed by what Jesus has done as they watch you live a life that is so radically set-apart from what they know, in complete confidence, because you have been rendered dead to all this world holds dear and you have been raised to a new existence that reveres God and desires to be holy.
Either we are dying in our sin - like the leaves on the fall trees - or we have been washed clean from the stain of our sin - like the cover of snow in the wintertime. We can't be both. It doesn't look right.
For His glory!
PS It doesn't mean you'll never sin again. We're sinners - saved by God's grace alone! But because we are no longer slaves to sin, we have the ability to chose to sin or not. The world is quietly watching. Bring honor to the Lord by living worthy of the gospel, and living like you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ!
I might be sharing this post at one of these magnificent link-up parties!
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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. [2 Corinthians 5:17]
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:1-10]
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:1-11]
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. [1 John 1:5-7]
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? [James 4:4-5]
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. [Exodus 20:2-5]
A righteous man who falters before the wicked
is like a murky spring and a polluted well. [Proverbs 25:26]
is like a murky spring and a polluted well. [Proverbs 25:26]