Wednesday, June 03, 2015

On being built...

I drive over the Kennedy bridge (the one in the background) multiple times a day. Many days 2 times, some days 4 times, and even on rare occasions  I will cross 6 times from Kentucky to Indiana, Indiana to Kentucky. It's a pretty necessary part of my life living in one state and working in another. I need it, but I don't know how it got there. I wasn't here to see it being built between 1961-1963.

The bridge in the foreground is the new bridge being built right next to the Kennedy. Eventually one bridge will go northbound while the other will be southbound traffic for I-65. Most of Louisville and southern Indiana residents find it annoying and a constant cause of complaint due to the traffic its construction causes. Traffic routes change constantly, and for anyone passing through that isn't from here: I feel for you...especially if it rains. Heaven help us all with traffic if it rains in Louisville.

As I drive over the Kennedy every day I rarely look at the bridge being built next to it. It seems like just yesterday nothing was there, and now there are giant concrete pillars emerging from the Ohio River. Today it caught me by surprise. 

I know nothing about how bridges are built. It honestly scares me a little if I think about it too much, and I don't know that you could pay me enough to be one of the guys standing on an incomplete bridge pouring concrete (or doing whatever else needs to be done to build a bridge). It's one of those things that I don't really want to know...I'd rather just trust the process and the geniuses who figured out how to build it. And then be thankful when it's complete.

Tonight as the bridge progress caught me by surprise I realized I so rarely think about the "being built" that is happening in my life.

1 Peter 2:5 says this: 
"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Ephesians 2:22 says: 
"In him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

Most days we don't even notice it, do we? Sometimes we ignore it. Then there are days when you might not see it, but you can't possibly miss it because all you feel are the repercussions of the construction happening in your own heart - life sends you on all kinds of detours, you get rerouted, and things are not as easy as they were the day before. And then the next day you might get sent in another direction altogether.

Construction is hard work. And it can be dangerous. That's why on every construction site you'll see men wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots. When you're building things there are heavy beams of steel and sharp metal rods and plenty of things that might not feel good. And let's be honest--no construction site is pretty. Our ideal picture is not the nails sticking out or half painted walls or a giant hole in the ground.

The finished product is always beautiful, whether it's a new home or a skyscraper or a bridge, but the construction zone is ugly and hard and dangerous. As our hearts are being built into a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, it is sometimes ugly, hard, and dangerous, but the finished product is going to be beautiful.

Here's what I think we need to know as we are being built: 
  1. We have to have a foundation. Colossians 2:6-7 says: "Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." While the building part isn't all our responsibility, it starts with an active choice to "accept Christ Jesus as your Lord" and then "continue to follow him." Any house being built has to have a foundation. If we want to be built, we have to first have a foundation, and that foundation is our faith in Christ. 
  2. We have to know the builder. Who is calling the shots? Is it God, or is it me? If it's me, there's a good chance the building project is going to fail. But if we allow God to do the building, we should also know Him. If I were building a brand new house, I would certainly want to know the builder and I would probably want to know as much as possible about him. Throughout the building project I would probably want to talk to him every day to check on the progress and understand what He was doing. Because I am the house, I want to know the builder as He does his work in me. I want to stay in communication with him as He does his work.
  3. We have to trust His plan. Behind every building project there is a blueprint and behind every blueprint is an architect who drew out the building plan. God is both the builder and the architect, which is an amazing combination. He isn't just carrying out someone else's plan - He's the one who made the plan to begin with, so He knows and sees the bigger picture. While we might just see concrete slabs and nails sticking out, He knows what we are becoming. We can trust that even though it doesn't look pretty right now, He is making us into something beautiful.
It is almost guaranteed that the process will be hard, but if we have a solid foundation, know the builder, and trust His plan, only something beautiful can be the end result. Our hearts will be an incredible dwelling place for the Holy Spirit as we continue to become rooted and established and built up in Him.

I think this is why Paul prayed this prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3:
 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
I think Paul had an idea about being built. He endured a pretty tough life on earth, but he had a greater vision for the final product. He knew he was being made into a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit and allowed himself to be built up as he endured all kinds of hardship. He had a solid foundation on faith in Christ, knew the builder, and trusted that His plan was perfect. He prayed the same for the Ephesians, and for us, above.

I pray this for you. I pray this for me. I pray that instead of ignoring the process we will be aware of the being built. And as we are being built, would we get to know the builder more and more, so that we can trust Him more and more and allow Him to reveal a better version of us - one that will be made complete and whole on the day when Jesus returns.