It’s a picture of the gospel. A foreshadowing of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Those who have given their lives to Christ have been anointed as sons and daughters of the King through baptism and have become a new creature; our appearance may be the same, but the essence of who we are is forever transformed.
This beautiful story of redemption and transformation is so universally written on our hearts that we see it echoed in art through the ages, even art with no overt Christian message. Like nature, which does not audibly speak His name even though it testifies to Him, secular art can’t help but testify to the glory of God. Whether it is through revealing the helplessness and hopelessness of life without Him, or the unspeakable joy of life with Him, there are faint echoes of the gospel all around us. Perhaps this is why pastors are able to find illustrations that touch our hearts — because the whole of creation gives testimony to the truth of God’s Word: the fallen nature of man and the good news of God’s Redemption.
Sunday, in our small group, we had a guest and played the name game to introduce ourselves. We each shared our favorite Christmas movie. While the clear favorite by a mile was “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I chose, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas." (2000) It occurred to me later that even this holiday classic points us to the beautiful story of redemption through unconditional love. (Stay with me here; it’s not a perfect representation, but it’s there.) We’re the grinch. We’re the “bad banana with the greasy black peel.” There was nothing lovely or lovable in us, yet God loved us. He pursued us relentlessly (yes, Cindy Lou Who is the christ-figure in this story). Jesus not only risked His life, He gave His life for us. And when we finally get that, OUR hearts are forever changed, just as the grinch’s heart grew three sizes.
OK, I know it’s a little sappy, but my point is that when we have been changed, we see God’s story all around us. We recognize the signs that He has placed in our path to point us ever more toward Him. We see in the dogwood blossom, the sand dollar, the footprints in the sand, or the stars in heaven (or even in a funny Christmas movie) how God is constantly at work all around us repeating this story in a million different languages and images and songs.
We weren’t worthy. He loved us anyway. When we finally, really, truly “get” that, it changes us. Where do you see God’s story in unexpected places?