Will You Remain a Thistle?
March 7, 2018
Pastor David R. Saliba
The thistle has long been used as one the symbols from Nature for the Season of Lent. One reason is that is such a brilliantly purple plant. Purple is the traditional color used during this season as it calls to mind the royalty of Christ as well as the suffering and bruises he endured on our behalf. Additionally, during Lent we are reminded of humankind’s sinfulness. The thistle is thorny, tough to grab, impossible to embrace with gladness, and very sharp. So too at times could we be described in this manner. However, in our state of sin we are still embraced by the love and grace of Christ who will do the difficult work of plucking us from the Fall and making us new. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
We may be a thistle, but Christ can re-make us. Regeneration, being born anew, is about a real change within us and a relative change for us. Our relationship to God is right only when we are a new creation in Christ who cancels our past sins and restores within us the image of God, this is the relative change. The real change within us comes from the Holy Spirit who breaks the power of sin over us, moves us out of the flesh and into a life in the Spirit. We are new in Christ! You have a new live, new goals, new desires, new thoughts, and even a new source of nourishment – Holy Communion.
Cecil B. Demille, the great movie producer, wrote the Parable of the Water Beetle just before his death. “One day, I was sitting in my boat, a big black beetle came out of the water and climbed into the boat. I watched for some time. Under the heat of the sun, the beetle proceeded to die. Then a very strange thing happened. His glistening black shell cracked all the way down his back. Out of it came a shapeless mass, quickly transformed into a beautiful, colored life. As I watched in fascination, there gradually unfolded iridescent wings from which the sunlight flashed a thousand colors. The wings spread wide, as if in worship of God. Before my eyes had occurred a metamorphosis, the transformation, of a hideous beetle into a gorgeous dragonfly, which started dipping and soaring over the water. But the body it had left behind still clung to my boat. I had witnessed what seemed to me a miracle. Out of the mud had come a beautiful new life. And the thought came to me that if the Creator works such wonders with the lowliest of creatures, what potential there is for the human spirit?”
I want you to read this with a discerning ear – we are simply an ugly, dark, shell without Christ within us. God still loves the ugly shell full of possibilities, full of potential. God wraps that shell in His grace and gives each of us the gift of Christ, but we must want our transformation in the Spirit. We must desire to spread our wings to the fullest worship of God; we must express all the colorful fruits of the spirit God has placed within us. It is without question that God’s desire for us is to leave the empty, ugly, dark shell behind and become new in the life of Christ, reconciled to Him. We as Christians believe in something that might seem strange to this our world…this world of independence, of power plays and pride…this world that mocks mystery and laughs at the Divine…this world of mortality where there is one life to live and in the end, there is death. To this world our Christ says – be reborn! Be born from above. Be transformed! No longer be a thistle, become new in Christ!
Pastor David R. Saliba