You’ve Been Upcycled
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Football season has come to a close and, chances are, you have a little more free time on Sunday afternoons. Next Sunday, you should check out a show called Flea Market Flip.

People compete by shopping for things at a flea market and then upcycling those items into a new and more relevant table, chair, lamp, or whatever. It’s an interesting show, but I don’t blog to give television advice. (Although it can be a side benefit!)

The point is this: in many ways, Flea Market Flip could serve as a parable for each of our lives.

God’s in the restoration business

A lot of people visit a flea market and only see a bunch of unwanted junk. Maybe that stuff was nice in the beginning, but, over the years, it has been dinged up, broken, rusted, faded, or just used up. Most people look at those piles of discards as useless.

But God visits flea markets and sees the potential.

In one episode, two women bought a couple of rusted patio chairs with dirty cushions. The chairs were sitting off in a field, covered by dirt and only worth a few dollars to the seller. By the end of the program, those chairs had been soldered together to become a brightly painted bench with a fancy new seat cushion. Those two old chairs were upcycled and then priced at a much higher value.

Do you ever feel like those rusted chairs?

Maybe the hard moments of life have made you feel useless or less valued. All of us have to weather our share of storms. But God is in the restoration business.

Israel became a world power under King Solomon’s leadership. They had prominence, power, wealth, and wisdom. But later, after most of the nation had been decimated, Jeremiah wrote these words to the remnant in Judah: “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast” (Jeremiah 30:17).

Judah would be taken captive by Babylon, and the once beautiful and opulent city of Jerusalem was reduced to ruins. God’s people were enslaved and called outcasts. But God knows how to upcycle what has been cast aside. God restored his people, not to their former glory, but to rebuild something new, with greater potential.

A new creation

I am amazed at the creativity of the people who transform their purchases on Flea Market Flip into things I never could have imagined.

  • Two women took an old ladder and a few old frames and turned those things into a shelving unit to display photos.
  • A husband and wife took an old chicken coop and created a beautiful coffee table.
  • A mom and daughter duo took an old door and two rusty stools and created a kitchen table that could hang on the wall of a small kitchen and then transform into an eating area when needed.
  • And two men turned an old, wooden wheel into a beautiful clock.

Paul was teaching the church in Corinth that Jesus could transform their lives. Corinth was known for their decadent culture and immorality. I’m sure some of the people in that Corinthian church thought they would never belong in a group of “holy” people. But Paul taught them that Jesus had given his life for everyone and could forgive every sin. Jesus is able to upcycle any life into something new and amazing.

Paul wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Do you ever wonder what your life would look like if you had lived it without Jesus? Do you ever imagine what the lives of those outside the Christian faith could look like if they chose to make Jesus their Lord?

Jesus would love the chance to continually upcycle our lives and the lives of those around us.

Jesus turns our junk into treasure

At the end of every episode of Flea Market Flip, one of the competing duos receives $5,000. That prize goes to the people who make the highest profit on their upcycled items. Most of the time it is a close race. On one episode, the difference was just a penny, but, occasionally, the difference is several hundred dollars.

The $5,000 prize is the same, regardless.

Every Christian is a child of God and has been given the same promise. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (John 5:24).

That prize is yours, regardless.

You’ve been upcycled

Maybe it’s time to take a fresh, new look at your life.

Do you notice the battle scars of your life, or do you see yourself as restored? You are a child of God, upcycled to a person of great value to your heavenly Father.

Maybe you haven’t fully recognized your potential. When Jesus came into your life, you were given a new purpose and a new usefulness. You have been upcycled by the Holy Spirit as a gifted disciple of Christ. You are a new creation. Jesus can transform junk into treasure.

And, finally, you are guaranteed to win the final prize.

The apostle John was an elderly man who had developed an amazing ministry in Ephesus. He was captured and exiled to the prison island of Patmos. I imagine he wondered if his life and ministry had been discarded as well.

Instead, he started a church there and began a brand new ministry in his older years. And Jesus appeared to him on that island and said he wanted John to write a few things down!

We call those words the book of Revelation.

Our ultimate purpose

All of us will need to be constantly upcycled on this side of heaven. This life is a journey, and, let’s face it, our witness gets a little dinged up and rusty along the way. But, Jesus told the apostle John that all of us would be winners in the end.

In Revelation 21:1–5, John wrote: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”

In heaven, no upcycling will be needed. There is never anything that looks like junk.

Everything and everyone is eternally made new!