One of my favorite shows as a kid was Home Improvement. This was likely due to the fact that the show was set in Michigan, and that Tim Allen would wear Detroit and Michigan-related clothing. It was also pretty funny. Everyone enjoyed the manly grunt noises, the lovable Al Borland and his flannel shirts, and the mystery of Wilson, the next door neighbor.
For those of us in Christ, home improvement projects are akin to our sanctification, or our slow, progressive, life-long dance between ourselves and God that results in us being more like Christ. When we come to place our trust in Christ, it is what can be called regeneration. This is a process that occurs once, much like the initial construction of a dwelling place. As time goes on, there is need for improvements and changes to that dwelling place. This is our sanctification.
Sanctification is not an easy process. It takes time. It is a slow process. Actually, our sanctification will not be complete until we are with the Lord. This process has been evident in my own life these past few weeks, faced with remembering my identity in Christ, experiencing altered plans and dreams, the realization of sins against others and blessings that I have fashioned into idols.
There are pains with improvement and growth. There are difficulties and discomforts. There are interruptions in our normal rhythms, just as if certain parts of our homes are not able to be used during home improvement. For instance, if one bathroom (that is, if you have two bathrooms!) is out of commission, you are forced to use the other. Thankfully, at the end of the renovation, some things will be different, and hopefully improved.
However, many things will stay the same after a renovation. Important load-bearing walls integral to the stability of the home are not going anywhere. Other things, like molding, light fixtures or interior décor will undoubtedly be different, and are not integral to a home’s stability, but do affect its character. This is no different in our lives in Christ, with our faith in him as our bedrock and cornerstone, and our doctrine and understanding of God’s word resting on that cornerstone. Acknowledging the importance of this cornerstone and other supporting structures, there may be personal preferences or parts of our lives that must be rearranged in order for us to continue to conform to Christ’s image and grow in godliness.
Matt Chandler makes a similar illustration in his Revenge and Love sermon from October 28, 2012. Chandler offers ,“Here is what I have learned about reconstruction: it’s always harder than you think it’s going to be, it always takes longer, and the tools you need are the tools you usually don’t have.”
For those of us in Christ, we fully know that Christ dwells within our hearts (Ephesians 3:17), and that that the Holy Spirit dwells within us (Romans 8:9), and gives us life. If this is true of our hearts, then we shall welcome the growing pains and difficulties of our sanctification. We must also recognize that, in the event that we do not have the proper tools (which is most of the time), we must rely on the Holy Spirit to equip us, and press further into community with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. More than likely, they may be more equipped than we are to deal with our growing pains, and probably have the necessary “tools” to aid in our renovation.
May we welcome our growing pains through our sanctifying growth in Christ, knowing that these challenges are set to equip us to continue to become more and more like Christ. I’m just thankful that the Lord is in charge of this construction project we call sanctification, and not Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor.