I will never forget Pete. Pete, a former parishioner, was a spitfire. He also suffered a heart attack in my third or fourth week of ministry and right in the middle of my sermon, Pete was in trouble. First responders came and whisked Pete to the hospital. After successful heart surgery and recuperation, Pete returned to church and his response to anyone asking about his health was, "I am doing fine. I have and 18 year old motor in a 76 year old chassis." I poked a playful challenge to him about interrupting the sermon that day and Pete gave me his patented sideways glance as he chuckled about the incident.
Pete didn't change much on the outside but he did on the inside. His heart was repaired and worked so much better. It took a near catastrophe to bring about a major overhaul. Pete was still a spitfire, but his thoughts and love of God increased exponentially.
A little over a year ago, some men in our church hatched a plan to find an old beat up pick-up and turn it into a 'Rat Rod".
Rat Rod - (n.) old beat up vehicle that receives an internal restoration. It looks awful on the outside but runs like a top fuel dragster.
After finding a 1953 GMC truck and parts from a Chevy S10, the project got off the ground. Much has changed on the two trucks since last year. Yesterday, I was at the local Vo-Tech (The Academy) and was offered the chance to check out latest modifications on the Rod. Wow, the last time I wrenched on it there were many parts in need of replacing and rust was the going color. Yesterday, I saw a different animal. There are now new spindles, front disc brakes, shocks, brake lines, and a few other upgrades on the chassis. The black paint makes the frame look a little better too!
I suppose in many ways, each of us is a 'rat rod'. Think about how God regenerates spiritually dead people. Jesus Christ died on a cruel cross to defeat the curse of sin and he beat death. Upon seeking and accepting the work He did on the cross and truly repenting of our sins, we are made new by the Holy Spirit. We don't change much on the outside. Our mannerisms don't change, yet, all sorts of newness exists on the inside. Our heart and mind view things differently. We have a heart of gratitude toward Christ and we love and serve Him with every ounce of our being. We look like a 76 year old on the outside but bounce like a boisterous two year old on the inside. Read what Paul shared with the believers in Rome.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin...
...In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:1-7, 11-14, NIV)
Friends, it's okay if we look like we have been through a Maytag wringer washer on the outside. God treasures what we look like on the inside infinitely more and God can make the inside brand new. While we may look like a 'rat rod', we can run like a top fuel dragster!