“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” [Ephesians 4:17]
Do you ever watch those home remodeling shows on TV? A few of them start out as simply easy rehabs that turn into major (and expensive) remodels. A lot of them, though, seem to focus on homes that people choose, then take on major renovations - walls knocked out, new flooring, expanded kitchens or baths. In reality, the end result is a brand new home - no minor remodel, but a major renovation into something new and wonderful.
Too often, Christians consider their identity in Christ as a minor remodel - put your faith in Christ, take on a new moral here or there, and give up some habit contrary to our faith. But for the most part, don’t get too crazy with that identity-in-Christ thing. Surely we don’t have to go over the deep end with a complete turn-around in our lifestyle…Do we?
This minor remodel approach to Christianity falls far short of the biblical vision. Maybe this new year might be a good opportunity to reflect on a passage in Ephesians that goes in depth as to what it means to think and live as a Christian. (Yes, it involves more than a coat of paint or scented candles in the foyer.)
Ephesians 4:17-5:33 lays out a vision, not of a minor remodel, but of a major renovation. As followers of Christ, we don’t simply believe and act a little differently around some people some of the time. Rather, we tear down most of the lifestyle house we have built, so that, in partnership with God and His people, we might build something altogether new. We put off the old self so that we might put on the new. Read this passage, truly consider how it affects your way of living, and open your mind to places where God is saying, “Pay attention to this.” Some of the passage will be welcome, even inspiring. Some of it most likely will be challenging, even baffling or upsetting. But don’t you suppose if a house had feelings, it wouldn’t rejoice during the first stages of a major renovation? The end result, though, for the house and for us, would be something of true beauty and function.
So here's the question to start off our new year, "In review of my life in Christ, would I benefit more from a simple remodel or a major renovation?"
Gracious God, in this new year, may our hearts and minds be open to You. May our lives be available to You. We all have places within us that have been transformed by Your grace. But, we all have parts of the ‘old house’ still needing some heavy-duty construction. Give us courage, Lord, to receive Your Word openly. Teach us. Challenge us. Encourage us. Transform us. Renovate us, that You would receive all the glory. Amen.