Monday, April 05, 2010

Work In Progress

Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without this event, our faith would be worthless (1 Cor 15:14). And it is through his death that we die to our sins and through his resurrection that we are given a new life. (Rom 6:4). So now that we have new life, what do we do with it?

I believe the expectation is to build something with our lives. Paul gives an allegory in 1 Corinthians 13 about building on the foundation of Jesus. I've heard this applied to churches, but I believe the context demands it be applied to individuals. In other words, we cannot lean on our church for our faith and how we live our lives as Christians, it is up to each and every one of us at a personal level. An important point is found in verses 12-15 that what we build will be tested so we should build the best that we can. If not, "it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Cor 13:15) So how do we build?

A couple of years ago, my wife and I purchased a Do-It-Yourself enclosed patio kit. As advertised, it would only take a weekend or two with a small crew of a "few" people. Piece of cake right? So one weekend, I called my crew, laid out all the pieces, brought out all the tools, and stood there overwhelmed. None of us knew what to do. The patio slab has a downward grade so the walls won't be even. The back wall of the house is stucco so the vertical beams that connect to the house leave up to two-inch gaps. The doors were too heavy to move. Not every piece fit. And on, and on. So we disbanded with our sanity intact, but my pride damaged. That "couple of weekends" project took a year of weekends and weekday evenings. What did I learn from this? Without help, without expertise, and without the right tools and materials, whatever I build will be burned up. So I learned. I just completed a swing set for my children. This took four days. But this time I had help, I had the tools, and I knew a little better what I was doing.

The same is true of our faith. Without help, without expertise, without the right tools and materials, we cannot hope to build anything of value. We try and try and get burned time and time again, but we learn. Many Christians are content with just showing up on Sundays and living their lives their way the rest of the week. Many also treat the resurrection of Jesus as the ends, not the means, of their relationship with God and take God's grace for granted. What they build will be shown for what it is. But I do not believe it is meant to be this way. We know this verse by heart: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8-9) But we neglect the rest of this passage: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (v 10) We are a piece of work. We are incomplete. And we are meant to do something with the grace God has given us.

Over the next several weeks, I hope to give us the right tools and materials for us to build something of value for God. I will be going through the book, Living on the Edge, by Chip Ingram and using the online resources to lead a "virtual small group" in an exposition of Romans 12. I'll be introducing the lesson the rest of this week and will dig in to Chapter 1 on Monday. You don't need the book to follow along, but you do need an open and willing heart. Please join me the next few weeks to build something that will last.


Glynn said...

I learned long ago to trust the experts when it came to plumbing, carpentry, electrical, general mechanical things, etc. Painting I can do; and wallpapering is not too difficult, either. But I wouldn't even dream of tackling a patio project. You get at least an A for courage.

Looking forward to the discussion.

Fatha Frank said...

Thanks for the A for courage, but you could also give me an F for stupidly believing what they were marketing.

Hope the discussion works. I'm experimenting with this, so we'll see.