Itís the modern mantra of the green revolution: reduce, recycle, reuse. Some people who donít like the idea of reducing anything may change it to ďreuse, recycle, repurpose.Ē Either way, it is only popular with a portion of our society. Many people are into the consumer revolution, instead. Its mantra appears to be, ďreplace, replace, replace.Ē When was the last time you heard of the average American darning a sock? One man recently wanted to repair an ancient (by electronics standards) musical keyboard. He was told to take a screwdriver and an ohmmeter, and if he could find the bad part he could try to resolder it; otherwise his best and cheapest bet was to throw it in the trash. Most things Americans buy, including our cars, now are subject to planned obsolescence; they arenít expected to last. Isnít it good that God thinks of us in a green way?
When it comes to reduction, most of the time the lowest you can go is zero. That is why that number is very popular in the names of so-called ďdietĒ drinks (whichGod can take the sinner and reuse, repurpose him. generally actually cause an increase in weight). Instead of reducing the calories to zero, it is usually better just to reduce the soft drinks to zero and replace them with water. Still, zero calories is sometimes a reasonable goal.
God has a reasonable reduction goal for us, as well. In this case, it is not zero calories, but zero sin.
Now, some might not consider that a reasonable goal. They will say that sin is so natural to man that reducing it to zero would be more comparable to reducing breathing to zero. Certainly, without God they are right.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 Jn 1:8-10)
We have sinned. We do sin. We will sin. If we say otherwise, the truth is not in us. If we say otherwise, Godís word is not in us. And yet, between those two phrases there is a reduction in sin. If we confess our sin, God faithfully reduces our sin to zero. He will cleanse from all unrighteousness. In the verse immediately preceding this, John says that if we continue to walk with God, God will continue to cleanse us from all sin.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Ps 103:12) Kipling said, ďEast is east, and west is west; and never the twain shall meet.Ē So we shall never meet our sins again. We may sin again. But as long as we walk in the light of God, it is immediately reduced to zero. That is a reduction plan that takes little effort, but has great reward.
Quilters know there is no such thing as an unusable piece of fabric. A patchwork coat or a quilt block may be made of small pieces of material that others might throw away. Others have gotten into the business of reusing or repurposing items. One company makes houses out of the large metal shipping containers, such as you might see on cargo freighters. There is a huge trade in used books. Even children repurpose old socks or paper bags into puppets.
Man has a purpose, and it may not be Godís purpose. Left to himself, it will not be Godís purpose.
The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. (Ps 10:2-11)
This is man at his worst, perhaps, but to one degree or another, it is each of us before a knowledge of God. There may be men who are essentially good, but sinners nonetheless. There may be the vilest of sinners. And there are many degrees in between. God can take the sinner and reuse him, repurpose him. ďAnd let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.Ē (Heb 10:24)
The writer goes on to say that repurposing is the intent of the assembly of the church. We gather together to encourage one another, and to incite love and good deeds in others. Then we are to go out and live in a way that we have been encouraged to.
Love and good works. Those are the Christianís purposes. We love because we are loved by God. We do good because God is good. We donít earn our salvation by our good deeds; we do our good deeds because of our salvation.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Ö Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:3-7; 12-14)
Neither can you separate love and good works. Good works without love are useless. (1 Cor 13:1-3) Love without good deeds is not love; it is selfishness.
Nor can you demonstrate love in hatred. ďBy this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.Ē (Jn 13:35) People do not know we are Godís people based on hateful speech. They donít see our love when we are telling them they are sinners going to hell. They might see our love if we tell them that we donít want them to go to hell, but only if our words and our actions together demonstrate our love.
God has repurposed us. Let us not corrupt that purpose.
Some things cannot be reused. They should not be thrown away, but they can be recycled. What results may look nothing like what went in. Rubber tires may be made into running tracks, or into retaining walls along a riverbank. Plastic jugs may become playground equipment. Waste paper may be pulped and turned into cardboard boxes. It is said that the natives of the American plains used almost every part of a bison (buffalo), either for food, shelter, or clothing. Even bones were made into sewing needles, and intestines into thread.
God is the ultimate recycler. He is going to take this tired, old body and recycle it. He is going to make it into something new and glorious.
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. Ö So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:35-38; 42-44)
We have no idea what our recycled bodies will be like. Just as a seed gives no clue as to the appearance of the fully grown plant, so our bodies give no clue as to what our celestial bodies will be like. Therefore, many questions we may have about life after death cannot be answered. Will we know one another? Will we missGod has repurposed us. Let us not corrupt that. those who donít go to heaven with us? Will we ask questions of Peter, Paul, or Moses? We cannot say, because we have no idea what our bodies or our environment will be like. Even the scriptures only give us hints, and those in terms we can understand in this body.
One thing that has become popular, but which is not usually mentioned with the other ďreís,Ē is regifting. This is the practice of taking something that is given to you and wrapping it as a gift to another. It usually happens with something you didnít want in the first place, but sometimes you may regift because the present held meaning to you and someone special admired it. You give it because of who is receiving it, on occasion. So it is with the gospel.
We have been given the greatest gift in the world, salvation from sin. The great thing about this is that we donít lose it when we regift it. In fact, it is a gift that compels regifting.
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor 5:14-15)
While we may ourselves be subject to recycling, reusing, repurposing, and reducing, it is we, rather than God, that must do the regifting. God is the original green revolution; he just needs us to do our part.