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Description: Life has many surprises. For many years our minds, emotions and wills have been a slave to the body. We need to be re-made, how can this change be made?
Picture Perfect – A Life Surrendered
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
You’ve seen it yourself sometimes, and sometimes it’s just a spring morning in the sunlight and
sometimes it’s a painting and it just takes your breath away. It just surprises you, you know that
all things were made by him and without him there is nothing that was made. And that Jesus and some
little guy, I forget his name, he’s not well known to us all, in some little garret somewhere wrote
those notes. And then I believe its Sutherland, a lady that is not really naturally physically
beautiful, she’s an Australian you remember. Retired now I think from opera singing but so big and
ungainly that they thought she could never be in opera or be on the stage and of course she is one
of the singers, I think it’s called the Flower Duet.
And then when Jesus marries those two voices together with this little guy’s music and creates
something. I hadn’t heard it, I think maybe years ago I heard it, but it just was startling in our
bedroom you know, when it was playing last night. And that was made by Jesus and so were you and so
was I. Because you are and I am; we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good words
which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. And you are here for the same purpose
as that piece of music, to show the beauty of Jesus, that’s it.
It obviously hasn’t much to do with how beautiful we are, whether our noses are the right
proportion, or our bodies because there was no beauty in him that we should desire him. He was
despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We esteemed him stricken,
smitten of God and afflicted. So it’s not the outward appearance but it’s your life and my life, it
was made by Jesus inside himself to be a thing of beauty. And I know it’s a cliché you now, isn’t
it Keats (poet), “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” but that’s why you and I were made. To be a
joy forever to our dear father, to be a piece of his son that filled the world with beauty and that
filled his Father’s eyes with pleasure and that’s why we’re here.
And that’s why the little shop is important, or the café, or the cars, or the jewelry, or this
chapel, or the house, it’s all like you it’s just a frame inside which God is painting a picture of
his son that would otherwise not be seen. So there’s a beauty – we were talking you remember about
Pierre Koffmann (famous chef) and La Tante Clair Restaurant and Mary was reminding me this morning
that there is a piece in that that he says, “Why do I think the work of a chef is unimportant?
Because, he spends hours over it but it’s gone in a gulp.” And then he says, “You can never
describe it.” You can never describe the taste as it’s tasted, you can never describe the look of
it, so it’s something that exists in that piece of food for a moment and then it’s gone. And you
feel that, that you can’t paint that, there’s something in that music that you can’t paint. And you
can talk about it but you can’t describe it, you have to hear it.
And you remember, someone has said, “The only authentic part of any art form is that which cannot be
expressed in any other art form.” And so a piece of sculpture can express something to the touch
that cannot be expressed in a painting because you cannot touch it, and it cannot be expressed in a
poem because you can’t touch it. And then of course the other is true with a poem or with a
painting. But that’s what we are; you’re a part of Jesus that cannot be expressed in any other way.
And if you say to me, “Are we meant to be perfect?” Oh, you better believe it, you’re the only
version, you’re the only version we have. Yeah, and you better be perfect.
Don’t argue about, “Oh does this mean I’ll never make a mistake and all that kind of stuff?” But
see that yes, you have just the same responsibility to make it as perfect as you possibly can just
as Pierre Koffmann does. You have a beauty of Jesus that can only be seen in you and that’s the
purpose of our lives. And yet you know you’re right we do have this treasure on earth in vessels,
that’s right. I don’t know if you remember the piece you know, in Philippians that Oswald Chambers
uses, he says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling because it is God at work in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And of course Chambers points out, “That’s it. God
works his son into you but it is your responsibility to work it out through you.”
And I suppose the first step you have to take each one of us here is, well are we ready for that?
Am I ready to admit that I’m only a bit of Jesus? Am I ready to admit that I was created in Christ
Jesus so I’m part of Jesus? And it says in John that I was made of his very own life so I’m made of
him. Am I ready to be just a bit of Jesus? The Bible says, “You are actually the body of Jesus and
each of you is a different part of that body.” And each of us has to decide are we ready to be
that? And when somebody criticizes you, or looks down upon you, or ignores you, that’s a moment of
reality when you have to say, “Amen.” Or you have to stand up on your own hind legs and substitute
all your ugliness and your horror for the beauty of the one who said, “I am meek and lowly of
heart.” And who walked down the Calvary road and allowed them to beat him really to death.
So in a way that’s a very important issue. We often talk about that as the crisis work of
sanctification but the name doesn’t matter, the important thing is that you have to decide are you
willing and am I willing to be just a bit of Jesus not to be myself. Am I willing to accept that my
old self, the way I used to be was crucified with Christ and that is dead and gone in the lamb that
was slain from before the foundation of the world and that I am no longer alive and it is not I that
live but it is Christ that lives within me? Am I willing for that? And that’s very real and that’s
why I present it to us often and repeatedly over the years because it’s a position that you have to
hold to it if it’s going to be real.
And it’s not a bad thing to examine ourselves year-by-year day-by-day, am I willing to be just a bit
of you Jesus? Am I willing not to be treated as different from you at all? Am I willing to be here
and let you paint your picture in me? And it seems to me that’s where our will, because it’s mainly
the will that is concerned in that crisis work of sanctification, that’s where the will repeatedly
is concerned because you have to decide, “Am I willing to let Jesus do what he wants? This is not
pleasant; this is not what is normal. I have a right in this situation to turn, a worm even turns.
I have a right to turn. I have a right to stand up for myself. I have a right to insist that
things go my way.” So repeatedly you have to be willing, if you want to live in reality to say,
“Yes Lord, whatever you want to do.”
Because I think he takes us down pathways that we’re not expecting and that we think are a bit off.
I mean, we think it’s just a bit much. And you must admit, when you think of it the moments when we
get into trouble in our relationships are when we think they’re gonna step too far and we better
stop this. Those are also the moments when the whole thing falls apart. And if you reflect in
those moments, if you bow the head at that moment and say, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” I
don’t know what it is, I don’t know that you know what it is, but it’s miraculous. The mighty
providence of God seems to work things out and you don’t lose, or if you do lose you don’t know
you’ve lost and it doesn’t matter to you.
So usually it’s at those moments when we want to take the thing back in our hands and we say, “Yes,
I’m part of Jesus but even Jesus would not put up with this.” It’s usually at those moments that
Jesus would go another step. That’s part of his beauty. The other part that I’d like to mention a
little to you is that beauty of Jesus is within us and that wants to express itself outwardly. And
that’s the part that is talked about you remember, in 2 Corinthians 4 it is, where Paul talks about
our outward man being destroyed and our inward man being renewed every day. It’s the part where he
says, “Death is at work in you but life in them.” It’s the part where he says, “You bear about in
your body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” Of course we’ve talked often that our outward man is
certainly our body and if the beauty of Jesus is to come through you and me every day it has to get
through our body. It has to get through our body. That’s what people see of us, they see our
I’m not talking about beautiful body, or slim body, or a strong body, I’m talking about our face and
our hands, the part of us that express our heart and our life, that has to be under the control of
Jesus. I think all of us had good mums and dads but they had all kinds of mannerisms many of which
we look on their face and we inherited that. It’s so funny if you look at the little guy, indeed if
you look at dog, you can see him imitating his master. But certainly a little guy or a little girl
you’ll see him – I mean, it’s very funny if you see a little boy with his dad and his dad does
something and the little boy does it too.
So it is with us, we’ve inherited all kinds of expressions on our faces, all kinds of ways. I’ve
inherited a joke with a joke with a jag. I’ve inherited all that Irish humor that as a little bit
of a dig in it. That isn’t – I don’t think it is good. But you’ve inherited things too. We’ve all
inherited things too. Some of us have inherited loud voices, some of us have inherited soft voices,
some of us have inherited fluent tongues, some of us have inherited stammering tongues, we’ve all
inherited different things. That’s part of the outward man that has to die day, by day, by day, by
day and that the Holy Spirit works out in each of us.
You know I’ve talked about this before because it concerns particularly living with each other. And
that’s where those things show up, the outward man, the body for one thing, the inability of the
body to express the love, or the kindness, or the immediate care of Jesus, or the words, or the
clarity of Jesus’ mind at that moment. That’s what wears us all out. We wear each other out by our
mannerisms, by our inexpedient ways. By the way we move our hands, by our inability – if you like
to think of weep with those that weep, by our inability to weep with those that weep often because
we’re stiff and starchy, or we were brought up never to cry, we never cry, we just bite our lip or
keep a stiff upper lip. And so it goes on.
Or, our fathers were facetious so we’re facetious; we always make jokes at the wrong time. We say
the wrong thing at the wrong time. That whole realm of the outward personality, that’s part of what
Paul is talking about when he says, “Our outward man is dying away day-by-day and the inward man is
growing strong.” The Holy Spirit is constantly working the death of Jesus into us in those things.
What I’d love us all to remember is there’s a beauty that Jesus has to create in you that you
yourself have not seen and that I have not seen but it’s a beauty that he knows how to produce and
to do it he has to change the mannerisms and the ways a lot of us speak and think. And it is not
un-American to do that, or un-South African, or un-Taiwanese, or un-Irish, it is not a shame to do
that it is a glory. So in a way, the progressive work of sanctification is that breaking of that
outward shell. And of course you all know that inside the shell of the body you, is the shell of
the soul with usually we talk about the mind, and the emotions, and the will. And you can see too
that if in here in our spirits Jesus is, “I in them and they in us Lord,” he said to his Father, the
Spirit of Jesus to get out certainly has to come through the body but has to get through the soul.
And the soul of course has all of its mannerisms too. Our minds are used to thinking in a certain
way and our emotions are used to feeling in a certain way, and our will is often used to being an
absolute slave to the body so there’s a whole turnaround that has to take place there. And this is
the realm of course, that affects mostly home living, family living, and businesses. Now, my
countrywoman has not to be embarrassed because it’s just an illustration but Sheila was in the café,
I think one time last year or her first year, and she was cleaning away some stuff and there was
one of those dear customers that don’t care about anybody, and she kind of said, “Take that away.”
Something like that, I may have got it wrong, but I know Shelia felt just utterly offended. It just
makes you feel like a nothing, you’re just there to be ordered around.
But I think all of us have that. I think all of us have that. And some of it, there’s something
good in it when it takes place under the control of Jesus but at that moment the Savior bowed his
head, and so did you actually, you bowed your head. That’s what I mean. The mind is trained in all
kinds of ways, some of which are helpful to Jesus and some of which are inexpedient. That’s what
God is working at continually in us, breaking this outward man so that the mind and the emotions are
directly an expression of the heart of the Savior who is within us.
And of course you can see that when these things are unbroken and Jesus is in there, then it doesn’t
matter you know, what you say but he is buried, he is buried in there. And that’s why in a sense
you remember it’s often said that there is no static state for the spirit. The Father loves the son
through the Holy Spirit and the son loves the Father and that’s how we ourselves are part of that
family. But the Spirit is always moving and where he isn’t moving he’s grieved. And usually there
is a lack of life.
But you can see that unless the Spirit is able to move out through our souls and through our bodies,
there isn’t a movement of the spirit within us and that’s when you find lives, Christian lives that
are static and dead, that are frozen like fossils. In a life that is moving in Jesus there is a
movement within it, every day it is being given up to death for Jesus’ sake. Every day the strength
of the mind, of the emotions are being more and more molded into Jesus’ own heart so that they are
effective servants. And that’s what we call a progressive work of sanctification; that God is
working every day when you deny yourself daily and take up the cross and follow him.
But what I would say to each of us is, our conversation at table, yes the way we set the apples into
the baskets, yes the ways we get into the cars each day, I know it sounds crazy, but the way we
punch the PDT’s, Christ means that to becoming more and more a picture of himself every day. He
means it to become more and more beautiful, more and more gracious. Just the way you remember the
old preacher said, “The Holy Spirit when he comes makes woman ladies and men gentlemen.” The Holy
Spirit of Jesus is working all the time on this picture of which you are the frame and only one dear
person is the picture and he’s working all the time to bring that about.
So what we heard there is what God is doing in you. And that’s why our home life is meant to become
more and more beautiful, more and more gracious. And the way we speak to each other is meant to be
more and more uplifting until yes, until Jesus is wearing your shirt and wearing your stockings, and
your hair, and has my suit, and is coming into this chapel and then that’s glory. But that’s what
it’s meant to be, it’s mean to be that and nothing short of it.
We ourselves, well in Ireland we would say we’re a pack of egets, but we ourselves are a bunch of
hams, but he can make beautiful what is here and that’s what he’s doing. Let us pray.