Conformity to Christ

“The Spirit works a conformity to Christ in all things…The Spirit assures us of the same privileges that issue from grace.  Christ is a son; the Spirit tells us that we are sons.  Christ is an heir; the Spirit tells us we are heirs with Christ.  Christ is the king of heaven and earth; the Spirit tells us that we are kings, that his riches are ours.  Thus we have ‘grace for grace’ both favor and grace in us and privileges issuing from grace, we have all as they are in Christ. Even as in the first Adam we receive his emptiness, curse for curse, ill for ill; for his blindness and rebellion we are answerable; we are born as he was after his fall: so in the second Adam, by his Spirit, we receive grace for grace.  Hence issues this, that our state now in Christ is far more excellent than our state in Adam was.” (Sibbes, A Description of Christ. Vol 1, p. 19)

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Glorify God in the Unexpected

I grew up building furniture with my dad.  He started learning to woodwork when I was young, and after he figured out how to rip boards on a radial arm saw without taking off a finger, he actually got pretty good at making mission-style furniture.   I helped him carry the furniture to the peoples’ houses who had bought it and did the grunt work of holding up a cabinet while he (slowly, it seemed) leveled it and fastened it to the wall.

Even though I saw piece after piece of beautiful furniture emerge from the shop, I gravitated toward rough carpentry.  Forget the sissy tack hammers and clamps– give me a pry bar and nail gun!  A few years ago my wife, Jen, actually looked into our master bath to find that the exterior wall had been removed and that you could walk straight out into our backyard.   Needless to say, I had some cleaning up to do!

The biggest difference that I find between rough carpentry and furniture building is that in rough carpentry nothing ever seems to go the way you thought it would when you started the project.  Whether it be a wall that isn’t level, floorboards that are rotten when you pull up the tile or pipes that you have to virtually use a stick of dynamite to pull apart; projects have their share of surprises and setbacks that you can’t plan for.  When I face these setbacks it is important to remind myself of the goal I am aiming for and how the next step in the project leads toward that end.

Life can have it’s unexpected turns like rough carpentry can’t it?  The home repair that threatens the budget, hectic schedules that are increasingly filled, work that is pressure laden and stressful; surely the list could go on and on. In the midst of the unexpectedness of life, we need to remember the ultimate goal we are aiming for;  to glorify God and find our joy in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

As Christians, God calls us to keep this ultimate goal in mind while faithfully going about the work he has for us on a daily basis.  Paul writes in Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that  from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”  In this verse we see how we are to work (heartily), who we are to work for (the Lord and not for men) and the goal for which we are working (to receive an inheritance).    It glorifies God when we work in this way.  Not only does it glorify God, but it brings us joy.

The day ahead looks different for each of us; different jobs, stages of life, different challenges and hopes and desires.   Regardless of the challenges and joys we will face, God is calling us to worship him by doing all of our work heartily for him, motivated by the inheritance that is stored up in heaven for us.

(This is a forthcoming article for our February Men’s Gathering Booklet)