Something exciting (and slightly terrible) is happening in my neighborhood! Dun, dun, dun! It’s new construction. Maybe it’s not “terrible” per se, but it’s a little inconvenient. I remember when the house I live in now was under construction. It was not all that fun.
I think that this is a good comparison for our lives as Christians. I believe that there are so many wonderful things about our life when we are following Christ’s example. There’s a joy there that I didn’t have before—that I don’t have when I follow my own ways as a fallen human being. But, Oh my goodness! the construction project.
We see something like this throughout Exodus (and in pretty much every book of the Bible) where God is shaping His nation—His chosen people—into what He wants them to become. Think of it sort of like our building codes. They aren’t always what we want—sometimes they seem excessive or a little ridiculous and inconvenient to our plan or our time constraints—but they are intended to hold the builders accountable to a standard that produces good houses and safe houses (at least, that’s my general understanding).
When we come to believe in Christ and turn our life over to God, the Bible says that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Where, before, there was a sad little lean-to of a life, God essentially bulldozes it over and breaks ground for new construction. But, after we come to Christ, we still have to resist sin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just disappear overnight and never trouble us again. We are constantly in a war against our sinful nature as we try to walk according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).
So, that’s where sanctification comes in. That’s the process by which we become more like Him as we grow in our faith, become more disciplined, etc. (2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1). Now, we will never be perfect here on Earth because we’re still imperfect human beings, but we are meant to become more like Christ as we go along. It’s a process. Our faith is something that we live out and grow in throughout our life.
So, to get back to the construction analogy, we are constantly under construction as God leads us to follow His “building codes” for our life. Maybe you’ve heard the song “He’s Still Working on Me?”
Because God doesn’t want us to stay the way we were, and because He wants us to be more and more like Christ, we must change. And, again, it’s not something that happens instantaneously, although I do believe that there are some instantaneous changes that happen in our life when we do first come to Christ. But, if everything were instantaneous and we suddenly became “practically perfect in every way” in the way we live (as opposed to how we become “perfect” in God’s eyes because of Jesus’ blood and forgiveness for our sins when we’re saved), honestly, I feel like that sort of change would cause us to miss out on some of the important aspects of our relationship with God. Wouldn’t we become more “robotic” than humans who have the free will to choose a relationship with God over sin?
(just as a small disclaimer: this is somewhat of a complicated topic, and I’m not claiming to have all the answers here as much as I’m working through this part of my faith–maybe like you are, too? The issue of free will is definitely a difficult thing to puzzle together in any case)
Sometimes it’s frustrating, because we want the house to hurry up and get this thing built already (!!!). Sometimes, we don’t meet the inspection requirements and have to work things out over a longer period of time than we wanted. It’s a process, but it’s intended to bring about a better result through tests, inspections, modifications, building, etc. While it’s not always fun, I can tell you that most homeowners who have gone through the process of building a home can likely attest that it is worth the results when the builder knows what they’re doing… and, trust me, God knows what He is doing!
So, just remember that you are a vessel under construction; and when you are tempted to try to rush the project, remember that God is taking you through a process of growing, learning, and discipline to become something much better than you were before. He’s still working on all of us!