Over the past 2 months, my wife and I have been living in the middle of a construction zone. We have been coming home from work every night to a kitchen that is in the midst of a total renovation. After hundreds of hours of planning, purchasing and installing, we are a few short hours away from completing this huge project. As I was leaving the house for work this morning, I thought about how this project is similar to the goal of a Christian to be transformed into Christ's likeness.
Here are my observations in no particular order:
Change Takes Time
For most people, there is not an immediate, overnight change that occurs in their lives when they become a Christian. While God can make certain changes immediate, for most people this appears to be a slow process that can be filled with pain and doubt. Should we set a timeline for God that He must meet in order to stay on our schedule of change? If God, who is Perfect in both His timing and knowledge determines to change something for someone right away and chooses to allow that change to take time in another person, who are we to disagree? We need to realize that Gospel change takes time and that we will not be perfected in our lives with God until we are given our glorified bodies in Heaven.
Transformation Costs Something
While most American Christians haven't been truly persecuted for Christ's sake, we are called to give up certain things while pursuing Christ. For some that might mean not swearing or getting drunk and for others it might be not taking a job because the company has taken stances that oppose their Christian views on certain issues. You might lose a day of golf each week because now you are attending a church service. You might have to change your attitude towards certain people and alter the way that you treat them based upon your understanding of how the Bible tells you to live. Whatever the case may be, there is always a cost to being a Christian and it should not be overlooked. We are instructed to "count the cost" before beginning our walk with Christ, so it is healthy to reflect on if we are willing to pay that cost today for God. (Philippians 14:28)
Surviving the Renewal Takes Commitment
When things get tough, do we simply cave in and cry "uncle!" or do we hunker down and stick to our guns and continue in the battle? Sure, we could convince ourselves to be happy where we are in the process and make do with a life that only partly resembles who we are called to be, but that does not mean that we are living the lives God has not only called us to live but that Christ paid for us to be able to live. If I actually live out my life focusing on the fact that Jesus paid my debt so I could live an even more abundant life, I am more than likely going to strive harder to make sure that it becomes a more valuable, profitable investment. I have been made "more than a conqueror" but am I living a life that reflects this truth? (Romans 8:37)
Teamwork Tackles the Job
We need help. Obviously, our first and Ultimate Helper is God the Father. If we are not relying upon His help to keep us rooted in the faith and living lives that please Him then we will fail miserably. However, sometimes an earthly helper is needed to help "bear our adversity" and keep us on the correct path of holy living. (Proverbs 17:17) Sometimes that can be through an aptly spoken word and sometimes that can be through a tough accountability conversation. There are times when we are overwhelmed by the things in life and when we are distracted by the world and lose our focus in God. At these moments when we feel like giving in or giving up, the need for a peer group and community support system becomes incredibly important. Many people can make a burden seem lighter and they can provide guidance in how to handle certain situations in a manner that honors God.
Keep the End in Mind
Sometimes it becomes easy to lose sight of why we are doing something when we are in the middle of it. Again, this is an issue of focus. As Christians we allow ourselves to lose sight of "the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:14) We start doing something for a very noble and Godly reason and in the end it becomes a hassle or an obligation or a ritual that has no eternal significance to us. This is not how we are called to live. If we are doing things out of habit and not out of love, perhaps we need to reevaluate our motivation for doing it. If I have no longing to do something for God, is it because I am not listening for the Holy Spirit to guide me into action or is because that action is not of God? If we keep our focus on Christ, then we will have our hearts in the place where we cannot help but hear the Spirit call us into action.
Many hands Make Lighter Work
Sometimes we need more people to tackle a tough job. The Church is no different, Part of the process of being transformed as a Christian is directly tied to the body of Christ. There are certain things that the Church is called to do and the more Christians that do them the more of an impact there is in the community at large. (James 1:27) If every Christian remained focused on God and the work He has for us here on earth every day, I believe that certain "large" issues in our society could be impacted.
This was by no means an all-inclusive list, but it represents some of what God has shown me through this time of transition and change.