“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
One of my favorite things about the summer months are the fresh fruits and vegetables that many of you share generously with Melissa and I. We appreciate the watermelons, cantaloupe, sweet corn, squash, cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, pears, peas, potatoes, and tomatoes! This is one of my favorite parts of being a pastor of a rural church! What a blessing it is when you know someone has worked hard in their garden just to be able to share with you. Whenever you share with us, you are sharing more than just food; you are sharing the love of Christ through your generosity! While I enjoy all the fruits and vegetables given to us, I must admit that my favorite are the home grown tomatoes. There is nothing quite like a fresh tomato sandwich or BLT on a summer day—with Duke’s mayo of course! That is a slice of heaven if I’ve ever tasted it; made all the more special with a fresh ripe tomato grown with love.
These home grown tomatoes have such a good flavor that far exceeds the flavor of a tomato you can buy at the grocery store. Although a store-bought tomato and a garden grown tomato may look similar on the outside—you can see and taste the difference on the inside. As soon as I slice a ripe garden tomato and see the bright red color, I know it is going to taste so good on my salad, burger, or sandwich. What really counts is not so much how a tomato looks on the outside but rather what is on the inside.
The same is true for a Christian. You may look at two people and see little difference on the outside. They may both love their family, work hard, and give back to their community. But the real difference in a person’s life is the condition of their heart. One may be destined for heaven and the other for hell, even though they are both good people. You see, a Christian is a changed person on the inside, because Jesus has forgiven their sins and made them a new creation. That transformation into Christ-likeness makes all the difference, both here on earth and for eternity. I wonder when people look at your life do they see the difference that Jesus has made on the inside? Do they see a transformed person who is compassionate, forgiving, joyful, humble, generous, peaceable, patient, and persevering? Do they see a person who can love their enemies, sacrifice for others, and serve the least of these among us? Do they see a soul who is faithful and fearless, putting the mission of Christ foremost in their life? Do they see a love for Jesus and a deep long-ing for others to be saved from sin?
What is on the inside makes all the difference! You can tell a cheap imitation from the real thing very quickly just by a brief look beneath the surface. I pray that as we worship and witness as disciples gathered at 4200 Neill’s Creek Road and scattered throughout our community, that our neighbors will see that the people of Neill’s Creek Baptist Church are different—set apart—true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ! If that change hasn’t taken place in your heart, ask the Lord to do it today. He can make you into a new creation. Thanks be to God for ripe tomatoes and redeemed lives!