Truly Christian, part 2

Beautiful Things - Gungor

The latest album by the band Gungor (lead-singer’s last name) features some thoughtful artwork on the cover. At first glance it appears to be just a few brightly-colored flowers. Look closer, though, and you’ll see that the entire picture is made up of unlikely elements (click for larger image). The flowers and soil are made out of skulls, bombs, and guns.

Now, before you write it off as just another hippie picture, take a look at these lines from the chorus of the title track:

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust; You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust; You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.

“You,” of course, refers to God, and the point is that if God can form man from dirt, then God can take even the ugly, dark, polluted, corrupted pieces of our world, and form them into beautiful things. And, he can take the ugly, dark, polluted, corrupted pieces of me, and form me into something beautiful.

And that is the point Paul makes to Philemon as he attempts to convince the slave-owner to welcome back his run-away slave as a brother in Christ. From the letter to Philemon:

For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever

In other words, Paul is suggesting that perhaps Onesimus, the slave, was supposed to run away. Maybe God, in His wisdom, knowing that Onesimus would run away arranged for him to meet Paul, who would change his life forever.

But, like the album cover above, there is more to that concept than what we get at first glance. Onesimus broke the law, abandoned his responsibilities, and stole from his master. Onesimus made some pretty poor decisions, and Paul suggests that it was supposed to be that way…even that God wanted it that way.

Now, I don’t think that Paul means that God wanted Onesimus to do bad things. But, Paul is suggesting something incredible: that God can take our worst mistakes, our poor decisions, even our sins, and He can use them for good. That doesn’t justify sin, but it does show the power of God.

God turns drug-addicts into well-qualified counselors. Criminals into mentors for young men. The divorced into comforters of the divorced. Adulterers into preachers with a practical perspective on the dangers of temptation.

And, God can take your mistakes, mess-ups, disappointments, failures and sins, and make them into beautiful things.

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