An Etsy-Inspired Theology


I like things that used to be other things. Earrings that used to be gambling coins, or Australian postage stamps. Picture frames that used to be bike chains. Lakes that used to be quarries. I like the fashionable word for it- upcycling. It’s not just re-using, but improving upon.  Not just a haphazard reshuffling of parts, but an insertion of care, time and love that transforms.

If you like seeing potential in the old and worn out, or the not-yet used (think paint and brushes), then you’re reflecting the Image of God- the God who redeems, who does not waste resources, the God who brings beauty out of ugliness and good out of evil.

Ezekiel 36:26: “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Genesis 50:20: “[Joseph to his rapscallion brothers] As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

In upcycling, the initial product is not, as in recycling, totally smushed up, melted down and what-ho, your glass bottle just became a fleece jumper. With upcycling, the essence is refashioned but its former life is still glimmering under the surface. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to wow Instagram-obsessives at your hipster soirees. Nor would it appeal to that echo of eternity that is at the core of our hearts: longing for a resurrection- a renewed body free from disease and decay and grimy intentions- rather than obliteration, and even rather than some Platonic disembodied, harp-playing state. As with upcycling, so with being Christian: we don’t lose our self-hood in the process of sanctification, or even at the Resurrection, but we have our self-hood renewed and gradually transformed. It isn’t a restraining, but a fulfilling of potential. Or rather a filling with light… Kind of like the Cointreau-bottle-turned-funky-lamp.

2 Corinthians 5:17:“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

So the moral of the story is, church craft mornings shouldn’t just be for women. And my hours on Etsy haven’t totally been in vain.

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