“If it's true I live in a world where hope has all but died, and if I really have a living love alive in me,
How am I letting it be known? How am I letting it be seen?
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the love that proves there is a living faith inside…
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the compassion and concern that make this world turn…
These are the signs of life!”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Under Renovation

I transferred to a new church - with some amazing people in it - a few months back. I left a “mega-church” to attend a recently-started, English-speaking church in a predominantly Spanish area. A few weeks before I officially transferred, Forward Fellowship Church was able to obtain a new building to hold services in, instead of the community center we’d been renting on Sundays. The place looked great on the outside: four strong walls, a good roof, centralized location… But inside – it was empty, and it was a wreck.

Merriam-Webster defines “renovate” as:
1. : to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
2. : to restore to life, vigor, or activity

We needed to renovate the building to make it fit for the life, vigor and activity that we dreamed would take place there. For weeks, people would come together and do just that. We tore out walls; we broke some things down and built others up. We rewired the electric, water and lights. We threw out the junk that hindered our goals by the truckload, and made some of the good things even better. The empty building began to be filled with new things that fit our purpose: flooring, chairs, tables, paint – just a few of the materials we needed to make it what it was supposed to be.

I’ve known Christ as my savior for seven years, and in that time, He’s renovated. He’s renovated me in order to make me fit for the life, vigor and activity that He dreams will take place within me. He’s torn out my self-righteousness; He’s broken down my temper and built up my love for others. He’s rewired the way I think, the way I speak, the way I act. He’s slowly but surely throwing out the junk that hinders the goals He has for my life, and He’s made the “good things” I did for my own glory become things that now I want to do for His glory. He took my empty life and began to fill it with new things that fit His purpose: patience, joy, mercy, passion for Him – just a few of the tools needed to make me into who I’m supposed to be. He’s renovating my life.

Forward Fellowship still has a long way to go before we’re finished with the entire building. There’s an entire room in the back that’s not being used: it’s filled with things that need to be taken out, removed and changed to become all that we confidently hope it will be. There are places where we still need to finish the floorboards. Total renovation is a slow process. In the same way, Jesus is still working on me, quietly – and sometimes not so quietly – hammering away at things that have to be removed. My pride, my apathy, my sometimes-tentative trust in His plan – those things and more are being slowly knocked out, worked on and repaired as needed.

That renovation is also called sanctification; becoming more conformed to Christ as He works in my life. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s freeing. But it’s always bringing me closer to the life, vigor and activity that He plans for me.

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1: 4-6
So He keeps working away at my heart and life, and will continue to do so until I finally die. He loves me too much to leave me empty and broken. He loves me too much not to renovate.

Under the renovation of Christ,