john deere toyKids today have so much stuff.  It is really quite amazing the volume of things that you can get for your kids.  A quick search of the Toys ‘R Us website found many interesting toys for kids.   $249.95 will buy your three year old a mini Hummer H2 that can be driven around the playground powered by a 12 volt battery.  $24.98 will buy your one year old the dashboard of a John Deere Tractor complete with a working turn signal, radio, and transmission shifter that beeps when it is in reverse!  $11.99 will buy your four year old a “Miracle Grow Vegetable Garden Set for Kids” that includes a plastic spade, shovel, and miniature scarecrow.  This is pretty incredible stuff.  It seems to allow kids of all ages to feel like they are doing some real work.

Now, for all the wonder and awe that these toys provide, they certainly have their limitations.  The plastic H2 on the 12V battery looks like the real thing in the front yard, but would be a disaster on the highway.  The John Deere dashboard, makes all the right noises, but will never hoe a row in which to plant the winter wheat.  The Miracle Grow Garden Set may have a great looking shovel . . . just don’t try to dig a hole in the red clay of central Oklahoma with its flimsy plastic parts.  All these toys look like their grown up reality (they even have the same brand names), but they will never be used for any serious work.

I write this today because I think the toys our kids play with provide an excellent canvas on which to paint a misconception that hampers the spiritual growth of many.

When we trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins, 2 Corinthians 5:17 informs us that we are a “New Creation” in Christ.  This passage goes on to tell us in 5:20 that our new identity comes with a new purpose . . . to be used of God in His mission.  We see this as Paul writes to the Corinthians, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.”    Now when we read this, there is a temptation for many of us to think that this is just a nice little “toy” that God has given us.  We can mistakenly think that God has simply put His brand name on the side of us, and dressed us up in plastic to “look like” we could do some real work for Him.  We think that our new identity and purpose only work in the front yard of our church being ministered to, instead of on the highway of real life where your friend or co-worker is asking the “hard questions.”  We may think that our new identity surrounds us with those who God uses to minister to others, but we would never expect to plant Gospel seeds in the hearts of others ourselves.  We may think that our new purpose allows us to watch the pastor minister, while never seeing God do anything through me.  I really think that many of us feel as though God will never (or even can never) do any serious work in His mission through us.

If this is the case, then I want you to read this next paragraph again and again.  God has not given you  a toy spirituality.  He has not given you merely a 12V engine when a V8 Hemi is needed.  He has not called you to a life where you merely watch others serve and evangelize.  He does not want you to just “feel like you are working” in His mission.  God has called you, saved you, and equipped you for SERIOUS WORK.  The same Spirit of God that empowered Peter to heal the man at the Beautiful Gate is present in your life.  The same Mission of God that compelled Paul to go to Rome is given to you now.  The same Presence of God that was promised to the disciples on the mountain near Bethany, has not been lost on our generation.  These promises and this real work was never intended to be something for the “Christian Marines” or the professional clergy.  The serious work of God has always been intended for all God’s people to be a part of.

All the riches that God has poured into the lives of believers today flows through a new arrangement (or Covenant) that God set up with His people in Christ Jesus.  This “New Covenant” is superior to the way that God related to people in Old Testament times in at least two ways . . . we will look at those two ways together on Sunday morning at Wildwood.  Under the New Covenant, God does not just dress us up like toy-Christians . . . He turns us into the real thing.  Join us Sunday as we look at Jeremiah 31:31-34 and other selected passages to see what this “New Covenant” is all about.

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