In this final sermon in our Moving Pictures series, Greg looks at how the past can be redeemed and give way to a healing future. All people carry wounds and brokenness from their past and many of us continue to live those hurts in the present. Greg examines how through the love of Christ all people’s pasts can be transformed and integrated into God’s great story of redemption.
Greg began this week’s sermon by sharing a story from his past. Growing up Greg always had his head in the clouds and frequently his father would get upset with him for it. Once as a senior in high school Greg took his old, rundown car to St. Cloud to visit his girlfriend at the time. His father warned him to keep his gas tank above a quarter full, because it was below freezing outside. Sure enough, Greg forgot and had to call his father to help him out. In a series of mishaps Greg’s car wouldn’t start, he lost his keys, and he locked himself out, all to the frustration of his father. Greg reflected that he could share what was a miserable experience it was now and look back on it as funny, because his perspective has changed.
Anakephalaico is a Greek word, used by Paul in the Bible, that sums up this idea of a change of perspective. It means to gather up under, recapitulate, or tuck under. In Ephesians 1:8-9 Paul tells us that God will gather everything under Christ and all of our stories will be retold from this new perspective. In short, God’s love will redefine everything. Our job will be to participate with God in this process of transformation. Jesus desires to reign over our past and bring all parts of it under His Lordship, to bring healing and freedom.
Greg showed a clip from the movie ‘The Kid’ starring Bruce Willis. In it an adult named Russ is visited by his child self (Rusty) and has an opportunity to be the adult his child self always needed. Russ had been trying to run away from Rusty, but when he finally embraced Rusty, he was able to experience healing and integration. All of us have pasts that impact us, and sometimes we get stunted by things that have happened in the past. It is only when we can experience anakephalaicoo, or retell the story of our past, that we can become fully integrated and healed.
Imagination can be an important part of the healing process. Greg shared a story of Tom, a man he knew, who struggled with guilt, panic attacks, and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Tom brought this struggle to God in prayer and asked when he learned to be afraid and guilty. He saw himself as a 10-year-old boy sitting on the curb, crying as his father walked away from him and out of his life. He felt abandoned, guilty, fearful, and with a weighty sense of responsibility that he must be a “big boy” now that his father is gone. He imagined Jesus entering the scene and embracing little Tommy. Jesus told him that it is not his fault, that he was good and that he will never be alone. Jesus promised to always be with him and never to walk away. The now adult Tom is motioned over by Jesus and affirms what Jesus said to the younger version of himself. Adult Tom asks Tommy to be a kid and let Jesus be the man of house.
Sometimes we need to revisit the past and tell the child parts of ourselves what is true of them while submitting our past to Christ’s lordship. This is the only way to move from fragmentation to integration as God bring wholeness. We can take any part of our lives that is out of sync with our identity in Christ and submit them to Christ for healing.
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