Relationships: God's Hammer and Chisel
One chip closer to the image of Christ.
For the last 5 years I have attended Calvary Chapel Flagler Beach. An imperfect church full of imperfect people like me. Even so, I am grateful for my church family, those people who have invested themselves in my life and spiritual welfare. We have gone through a lot together over the last couple of years. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
God uses this group of people to shape my character. Everyone in the church has their own way about them, something that makes them unique. This diversity draws me out of my comfort zones, forcing me to interact. My relationships with folks grow little by little as we learn to embrace each others differences and love each other despite our faults. My character is formed through these relationships. Learning how to be a part of the bride of Christ and conforming my ways to God’s way.
In most cases this process is relatively easy; I can effortlessly interact and relate to the majority.They are kind and loving and add joy to my life, just as I endeavor to add to theirs. However there are always those folks that God brings along that force me to change quicker and to a greater degree then I am prepared for. Adding to my character by Forcing me to become kinder, gentler and more patient then I previously thought possible.
Romans 8:29 tells us that we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. I like to think of God as the great sculptor who is taking the stone of our character and transforming it into the image of Christ. He uses our relationships both in the church and out, as a hammer and chisel, striking at the bits of our character that has no value. At best, the process is uncomfortable, at worst, it is excruciating, but the end result is always beautiful bringing us one chip closer to the image of Christ.
The Church I Used To Go To
A ship was sailing past a remote island and discovered a man who had been stranded there for several years. They went ashore to rescue the man and noticed he had built three huts for himself. They asked him, "What is the first hut for?"
He said, "That's my house."
"Ok, so what's the second hut for?"
"That's my church."
"Ok, so what's that other hut over there for?"
"Oh... that. That's the church I used to go to."
One difference between those in my family and those outside, is that, I am bonded to my family. I can’t simply walk away from my relationship with them. Despite their character flaws, I love them. I am willing to be wronged by them. I find it easy to say Good-bye and good riddance to those who mean nothing to me.
As much as I enjoyed the joke above, it speaks to a very serious problem; a failure to bond. It’s easy to leave a church when the folks in it mean nothing to you.
In every church I have ever attended, I have been offended. The times that I threw my hands up and walked out, never to return, were in churches that I was unable to form any meaningful relationships.
I have come to see my church friends as a part of my extended family. In varying degrees, I have invested in them, just as they have invested in me. Originally, our faith brought us together, but grace and determination bind us together.
In moments of offence, leaving a church makes me feel better for the moment. However, I found that same offense waiting for me in my next church. I can’t run from God’s Hammer and Chisel, He is going to use relationships, where ever I am, to conform me into the image of Christ.
Dear friend, once you find a church you are happy with, dig in and form meaningful relationships. Bond with those around you. Be willing to be wronged by them, and purpose to love them when they offend you. You are not alone; God is asking them to do the very same things toward you.
Offenses reveal our sin nature; how we respond to them reveal the progress God has made in shaping our character. God uses the people around us to expose our character flaws. The sooner you learn to love your offender the sooner God will put away his Hammer and chisel.