We had just moved into our new condo in San Francisco. I was sorting through the unwanted items the previous owner had left behind under the deck, it was dark, murky, and damp. Some of the boxes, rusty rakes, and clay pots might be useful, the rest would need to be thrown out.
I lifted a box and was surprised when the most beautiful fragrance emerged. The lovely fragrance came from a clay pot. I took it out from under the deck and into the light so I could get a better look at it.
The pot contained a hyacinth. It was pale (colorless, like white asparagus) and since the box covering it prevented it from growing upward, it had wrapped itself around the perimeter of the pot that contained it.
Although formed by the pot’s limits, the darkness and the confinement could not suppress its truth.
I placed the pot in a sunny spot on my deck and within a day, it was transformed. It stood straight, reaching for the sun and it turned a beautiful lavender color. Freed from its darkness and confinement, it could become the lovely flower it was created to be.
This illustrates the power of the Gospel. God created you in God’s image and planted a seed of beauty and truth in you. This is your true self. But, like my hyacinth, your true self has been distorted and hidden by sin.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection address the sin that binds you and deforms you.
Let’s talk about sin. Some people have a problem with sin or the word/concept of sin. They’ve come to understand it in a cultural or societal or even a religious interpretation…we are worms, worthless, and there is no good in us.
This is not a biblical picture of sin and its effect on us. Remember before original sin there was original grace.
Dallas Willard says in Renovation of the Heart, “Sin does not make us worthless, only lost.”
Let’s start at the beginning:
Genesis 1 – Humankind was created in the image of God and declared “good.” There is a God spark inside every person that is tended by God. It is guarded and never extinguished like the eternal flame at Arlington Cemetary.
Then, of course, came Genesis 3. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had asked them to avoid, saw that they were naked, felt shame, and attempted to clothe themselves. Sin became incarnate.
Although created in the image of God (good) we also have inherited the image of Adam and Eve (sin). We are sin tainted, it’s in our spiritual DNA, like fat marbled in a piece of meat.
Simply speaking, Sin keeps the hyacinth in the dark, hindering it from being the colorful and beautiful flower it was meant to be.
Jesus is described as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He purposely entered our world, taking on flesh and bones, and carrying our sin with him when he was killed and placed in the dark, dank tomb.
The dark couldn’t kill the hyacinth and death couldn’t hold Jesus. He rose and now shares his death-less life with us.
Jesus tells us of God’s heart toward us in Luke 15 the prodigal son. (Did you know prodigal means extravagant, spending resources freely and recklessly? I think this parable should be known as the prodigal father!)
“All I have is yours.” This is what the perfect Father says to the not-perfect son.
We are coheirs with Jesus. All that is true of Jesus is true of us by grace. (Gal 4:7)
You see, we are not just good people who do bad things, nor are we bad people who do good things. Take heart! We are beloved sinners.
Like my hyacinth, your true self has been distorted and hidden by sin.
And like my hyacinth, God seeks you, finds you, and brings you into the light so you can stand tall and beautiful.
This is the Good News! This is the story of Easter!