God’s renovation project

I believe we’re living in a time when God is stripping off the layers of centuries of religion in order to reveal the stunning beauty of Christ and the good news of the gospel that brings great joy.

It’s like the house my wife and I live in. It was build in 1930. When we started to do some remodeling, there was worn-out and rather ugly blue indoor-outdoor carpeting on the kitchen and hallway floors that was installed in the 1970s. Under this carpeting was black linoleum tile that was probably installed in the 1950s. This tile was glued down with something that looked like tar but was as hard as cement.

After ripping out the carpeting, scraping, chipping, and sanding off the linoleum layer, underneath all of that, a beautiful oak floor was revealed in all its glory.

This is what I believe Jesus is doing with His house—His body, the church. He’s peeling back the centuries of layers of man-made religion so that the beautiful, stunning, and breathtaking truth about Jesus Christ can be unveiled for all to see. And the exciting thing is, He’s inviting you and me to participate in the renovation process.

I was reading the following passage in Colossians the other day and it got me thinking about this.  Again, As I’ve said before, I’m going through the New Testament this time with the Passion Translation (TPT). You can read it in your own translation if you want, but this particular rendering brings out some interesting points:

Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make him known. Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith. (Col.4:5-6 TPT)

First, we see that we’re to walk in the wisdom of God as we live before unbelievers. So, it matters how we live. It also means that we need to have an ongoing relationship with Jesus so we know how to walk in His wisdom. We must, first and foremost, know Christ experientially, not just know about Him from studying a book.

Second, it’s our duty to make Him known. How do we do this? By getting in people’s faces? Not according to this context.  If we’re following Jesus we should start to look and act like Him, right? This means that people should see a progressive transformation of our lives as we follow Christ.

I wrote about this in my post “To Know God is to Love Others.” If we’ve actually encountered Christ, our lives will be more gracious and kind and we’ll begin to exhibit all the fruits of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). Jesus said we will know a tree by its fruit (Matt.7:17-20), so we’re not fooling anybody. For instance, if I say I love God but hate some people then I’m a liar (1 John 4:8,20).

Third, the words we actually use should be “drenched with grace ….” Grace means that we treat others the same way we would want to be treated (Matt.7:12). So, how would you want to be talked to if the roles were reversed?

It’s also tempered by “…truth and clarity.” Jesus Christ is the truth about us and His clear purpose is restore us to Himself so we can become our authentic selves, fully human, as God intended.

29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. (Rom.8:29 MSG *)

Finally, we’re to give a “respectful answer to anyone who asks.” Two things here: first, our tone is not demeaning, dishonoring, or condescending…it’s respectful. We respect people’s opinions and how they respond to us. Second, notice that we’re answering their question, not pushing some canned pitch in their face!

Here’s how Peter said it:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Pet.3:15 NIV*)

Here, again, we see that they’re asking us and our response is with gentleness and respect. The point is, if we’re modeling Jesus in our relationships, then there will come a time when people will ask us about why we are the way we are.

Conversely, if they see us chasing after the same things as them, weighed down by the same worries, responding ungraciously and living selfishly and small-minded without any sense of greater purpose, then there would be no reason for them to be curious at all. We’re just like everyone else they know.

Clever arguments don’t win people to Christ, transformed hearts and lives do. We must learn to model how Jesus reached people, and His method was “show, then tell.”

If we’re going to peel back the layers of religion it must start with letting Jesus peel back the counterfeit layers in us. Just a thought….

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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16 Responses to God’s renovation project

  1. thiedeann says:

    Thank you for putting into words and using His word to speak what I’ve been pondering in my heart.

  2. I am concerned about it too. But, as long as there is “church politics” and vying for position and entertainers and and and… Well, I think the only way to strip all that away and reduce our “going to church” to meeting in homes or parks or some small venue and having intimate relationships with other Christians that way, will most people feel an intimate relationship with Jesus. Then what percent of people would do it? Worship. No more titles, no more entertainment, no more chairmen and and and… Yes, we’d miss out on knowing a lot of people and having big programs, but somehow Jesus gets lost in the shuffle.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Katheryn. A problem definitely is the politics and program-based thinking instead of growing in intimacy with Jesus and in community with one another.

      But I’m not sure if the solution is in how we meet (buildings or in homes), the problem goes much deeper. It’s a deeply embedded need for religion instead of relationship.

      Also, there will always be a need for anointed leadership in the church, if done properly (Eph.4:11-16).

      Meeting in small groups are a good way to get more people involved in following Jesus authentically. But the biggest thing that needs to change is us, and only Jesus can do that. And I’m confident He will do just that! 😊

  3. Amen! Good word. It’s difficult sometimes to not be anxious when you look about the world, and look about the church. The same is true when we remodel our houses. What a mess! Total chaos, lots of unwanted surprises, hard to keep your eyes on the vision.

    Love that word “tempered.” It’s all over your post and in TPT wording, too. We were just talking about that on my blog, MJ brought it up as a good word for “softness and strength.” When metal is tempered, some of the hardness is removed so it is no longer brittle and therefore can handle the load much better.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, IB. I think the biggest issue before us is that we are the ones getting remodeled, not the world. We need to stop looking at everyone else and let Jesus work on us, until we start looking like Him. Then, people may even ask us for the hope that’s in us for a change. Let the renovation start with us! 🙂

  4. Pastor Randy says:

    I’m with you–God is doing something absolutely different that WE’VE ever seen. He’s taking off the layers of the past and getting us back to our origins! Glad to find a kindred heart!

    • I agree, Pastor Randy and I’m getting excited about this new direction. I firmly believe that we are headed back to the signs and wonders of the original church. They too lived in a very dark era but had a supernatural boldness to stand against that darkness.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Yes, Patrick, and that supernatural boldness must be tempered with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Otherwise, we’ll just blow people up with our power and sound like noisy gongs. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, Pastor Randy. Jesus’ bride is waking up! 🙂

  5. Good word… You wrote, “This means that people should see a progressive transformation of our lives as we follow Christ.” I may be wrong in this, but I tend to tune out the very outspoken Christian who shouts their faith from the mountain tops. I tend to let my eyes do the listening as I look at how they are living versus how well they claim they are living for Christ Jesus.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Exactly, Patrick. This is why it’s important to see in the passages I looked at that we are giving an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Obviously, people have to see something different and compelling about our lives first, otherwise they’re not going to bother to ask.

      And that’s the challenge. This reformation is not about us telling everybody else how to behave. Anyone can see what’s wrong with the world. I think our culture has already weighed that form of evangelism in the balance and found it wanting. But, as G.K. Chesterton said so astutely, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

      This renovation is about us allowing Jesus to transform and peel back the layers of our hearts and make us look, act, and love like Him.

  6. Pingback: Remodeling YOU | See, there's this thing called biology...

  7. Citizen Tom says:

    @Mel

    I believe we’re living in a time when God is stripping off the layers of centuries of religion in order to reveal the stunning beauty of Christ and the good news of the gospel that brings great joy.

    We are the church. We are covered with those layers of centuries of religion. So it is as IB’s post suggests. We are going to get knocked about and stripped bare of those ugly carpets and linoleum tiles. Ouch!

    I do like well made and well polished wooden floors. Not sure I want to be a wooden floor, but if Jesus thinks it is good idea, who am I to second guess Him?

  8. Pingback: It’s not about them | In My Father's House

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