Look UP, Look IN, Look OUT

March 9, 2014

First Sunday in Lent

2 Corinthians 3:7-18

Intro:  Our God, the God of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the God of The Covenant.  Forever, God has established a covenant between himself and humankind and forever, humankind has failed on their end.  God, in his extreme mercy and great desire to be in relationship with us, doesn’t give up. Formally, the Old Covenant is the one made with Moses and the exiles from Egypt, known as The Ten Commandments.  The New Covenant was made for us in the death and resurrection of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.




In this second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul is writing about being ministers of the New Covenant.  I found the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant laid out nicely on-line for a college class that was studying the topic. Jack McKinney uses 2 Corinthians 3 to compare/contrast the Old Covenant to the New Covenant:  (On the screen is just the list, if you want the Scripture references you can look at the sermon on the website or see me)


The Old Covenant vs. The New Covenant

Jeremiah 31:31-34




When Paul speaks of the hope we now have, it is a gift of grace that the world received through Jesus Christ.  We no longer live under the law of Moses which had the power to instruct us how to live but could not bring life.  We live under the law of Grace, and by that grace we receive life!  But that’s not all!  This covenant of grace is extended to all people and we who know it in our hearts are the very ones God calls to share it with others.


I want to focus on the last two verses of this passage, vss 17 & 18.  In these two verses is the pattern after which the whole worship service is patterned:  Look UP, Look IN, Look OUT.  Let’s see how that is.

Look UP – Who do we find God to be in these verses?  The Lord is Spirit; where the Spirit is there is freedom – from sin, from condemnation; it is the Lord who is Spirit who works in us the transformation he desires to see in us.  When we become Christians/born again/however you want to say it – we are set free from the condemnation that comes from sin and death.  But that’s not all!  When we receive Christ into our lives, we begin the transformation from our old nature which seeks to honor self, to our new nature which seeks to honor God.  The Spirit of God works in us to bring this about.


Look UP and you will see God, the Creator of the universe, seeking to set you free from your past:  Your past allegiances with yourself and with this world.  This same God who created you is re-creating you to live in the freedom that comes through the gospel of repentance and forgiveness.


Look IN – Who do we find ourselves to be in these verses?  We are the ones upon whom the Spirit of the Lord acts to bring about change.  Because God became one of us in Jesus Christ and because he died to bring about our freedom and forgiveness, we are ushered into the presence of God without fear.  We are the ones who contemplate the glory of God.  We are the ones being transformed into his image.  This transformation occurs with ever increasing glory that God himself gives to us!  I don’t know about you, but that gets me pretty excited about being in Christ, because I know where I have come from and I am grateful that I’m not still there!  Now don’t get me wrong.  On my own, I think I would be a pretty decent human being. I would be kind and thoughtful and help other people out but I wouldn’t have the friendship of Jesus, or know the love of my heavenly Father, or understand the Word of God that means everything to me.  I would be much more self-centered than I am (and I’m pretty self-centered!).  I would not be concerned with the things that concern God.  I would not be disturbed regularly about my lack of obedience and how it prohibits me from intimacy with God.  None of these seem to be earth-shaking differences but in my own heart and soul, they are everything.


What would you be without Christ?  If the answer is “not much different” then friend, you need to ask if the Spirit of the Lord is at work in you!  If Christ is in us, then the Spirit is working in us to bring about change – transformation.  The Spirit’s work effects our world view, it effects our attitudes towards our spouses and children and our neighbors, it effects the way we treat others – the ones we know and like and the ones who are strangers and different from us.  The Spirit working in us transforms our relationship with God and causes us to seek his face.  And this transformation is a constant work in us until we arrive in the presence of God and see him face to face.


I am asking this question not to discourage you, but to invite you deeper into a relationship with God – to seek out what He desires to do in you.  I am asking you to take notice of where the Spirit of God has given you courage?  Where has he given you hope?  Where has He changed your mind?  Jesus didn’t come JUST to save us from sin but to give us abundant life, which is experienced the more we are transformed and shaped by His Spirit in us.


Look OUT – Okay, so we acknowledge God for who God is when we Look UP.  And we acknowledge that God is at work in us when we Look IN.  But that’s not where the gospel of Jesus Christ stops. The notion that our faith is private, “just between me and God” is an un-Biblical myth.  Nowhere in Scripture is faith privatized.  If you look at the cross there is a vertical reach – that’s the up and in – but there is also a horizontal reach and that reach eternally reaches out. 


Looking OUT is when we take what we know about God and we take what we know about his transforming work in us and we look at the world around us and ask, “Where do I need to take the gospel?”  Now wait a minute!  This does not mean that you all get to go out and find a corner to stand on to preach!  But finding a corner to hand out hot coffee on a cold day – now there’s an idea and excellent use of corner realty!  Being committed to pray for someone who was mentioned today?  Perhaps you’ll find that the praying not only impacts the other person but continues to transform you!  Once I say this next one, I’m going to be committed to doing it.  Maybe there is a child across the world needing to be adopted so that they have the opportunity to go to school and eat sufficiently.  Choose an agency – ours will be Compassion International.  Begin to pray for opportunities to “be” the gospel of Jesus Christ whenever you leave your home!


Concl.  I encourage you to make this a Holy Lent.  I invite you to use the tool we’ve used this morning:  Look UP, Look IN, Look OUT.  I desire you to carry this Scripture with you from 2 Cor. 3:17-18


Now the Lord is the Spirit,

and where the Spirit of the Lord is,

            there is freedom. 

                        And we all,

                        who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,

                                    are being transformed into his image

                                    with ever-increasing glory,

                                    which comes from the Lord,

                                    who is the Spirit.