Once upon a time there was a little girl called Aster. She was an orphan and lived in the streets stealing, fighting and hanging around with a group of outlaws. Her clothes were dirty and tatty and her hair was matted and unkempt.
One day Aster was thrown off a vegetable cart where she had climbed to help herself to a free meal. She landed in the street and broke her ankle.
As it happened, the king of that country was being driven in his royal coach behind the cart and the king saw what had happened.
He took the girl home to his palace to care for her. He called for the royal doctor to treat her foot and apply ointments to her scratches and bruises. The king told Aster he wanted to adopt her. Aster couldn’t believe it. She was dirty, had never been taught to be polite or kind and did not even like herself. How could such a magnificent king want her in his household? There were many princes and princesses in the king’s family already, all clean, well mannered and beautifully dressed.
As soon as Aster agreed, the king called for the documents to be drawn up and he signed them and put his seal upon them.
Aster became a princess at that moment.
The king arranged a bath for her and bought her beautiful clothes. Although Aster was now a princess, she didn’t feel like one. She used bad language and fought with the other children. But slowly, from watching the behaviour of the king and the other royal children, and wanting to do everything she could to please her new father, Aster learned to behave more and more like a princess.
At church we are looking at the Household of God from 1 Timothy. On Sunday we looked at 1 Timothy 3:15 and 16.
“Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness flows is great:” (verse 16a)
Pastor Richard pointed out that we often confuse godliness with goodliness. We think being godly is being good, upright, moral, honest. But that is goodliness. Paul goes on in verse 16 to talk about Jesus. He is the mystery from which true godliness flows.
Other Bible passages agree. “The secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.” (Colossians 1:27 Philips translation.)
In my fairy tale, there might have been many little girls in the kingdom with beautiful clothes who were taught to behave like princesses, but they were not. Aster could do nothing to become a princess. It was a free gift of the king. In the same way, we cannot strive to be godly. We need merely to agree to Christ coming to live in us. He does the rest and it is not an overnight transformation.
But He has promised, “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ.” Phiippins 1:6 NIV)