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Redeeming the Past

• Greg Boyd

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.

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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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Topics: Culture, Healing, Hope, Transformation

Sermon Series: Moving Pictures

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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 1:8-9

    With all wisdom and insight [God] has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

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2 thoughts on “Redeeming the Past

  1. Peter says:

    While listening to Greg’s message, I couldn’t help but think…probably like many others…that we are all on our own road trip.

    In one sense, it’s almost as if we have awoken from a deep sleep and here we are, conscious of our surroundings, not really knowing our true beginning and having a fair idea where we are headed.

    The interesting aspect to this is that where we are in society, we are in the midst of everyone else’s road trips. In fact, such can be the relationship that, as Greg describes in his own life, some of those people become part of our road trip as we do to others…whether for good or bad.

    This, of course, leads to the greatest road trip when we read the gospels…that of Jesus, the Gospel road trip.

    If we start this trip at the beginning of His ministry, we find His ‘itinerary’ (Lk 4:16-21),

    “He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.””

    As we can see from this scripture…and effectively Jesus’ words…He is addressing the tragic road trips of many, if not all.

    It was not long after this event that Jesus road trip intersects with those of the (then to become), Disciples and changes their road trips forever.

    In similar fashion, the road trips of believers reaches a fork in the road where Jesus’ instruction is (Matt 7:13-14),

    ““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

    The offer from Jesus when we believe is (Matt 11:28-30),

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    So, effectively being ‘yoked to Christ’, our road trips become one. Or, as Paul describes (Gal 2:20),

    “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

    However, in God’s economy, as Greg could attest, that while the failings of our road trip have been dealt with on the Cross, He makes use of parts in shaping our lives and leading us forward on our new road trip…the way of the Cross.

  2. Joel says:

    Thank you for your podcast ministry.

    Big “amen” to your message Greg.

    Like most all of your podcast’s, this message really touched me.

    I know it’s a good sermon when it makes me both laugh and cry inside of thirty-six minutes!

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