There is an unwritten rule in home improvement that ensures that any minor modification of your home will grow to consume entire sections of the house, massive amounts of time, and more mess and expense than was ever originally planned or imagined. Somehow I always manage to forget this simple reality until it’s too late. Most recently, an innocent project involving removing the old wallpaper in our kitchen developed into a major kitchen overhaul that even spilled over into the first floor bathroom. How changes in wallpaper and paint can translate into new light fixtures, kitchen countertops and plumbing nightmares is beyond me.
There is also a spiritual corollary to this “home improvement creep.” I have found that rarely does God go to work in one part of our lives that we don’t see changes reverberating through other, unexpected areas. C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he compared this process to inviting a carpenter to come to work in his house. He wrote: “When I invited God into my life it was like I was a little house in much need of repair. When he first came in, he repaired things I understood — like patching a leaky roof or a knocked out wall or a broken door. But then He started really banging around, ripping out walls, adding new rooms, doing major reconstruction that was very painful and I couldn’t understand why all that was necessary. The thing was, I thought God was trying to make me into a nice little cottage, but what He had in mind all along was a beautiful, spacious palace.”
As I have often said before, God loves you just as you are, but God loves you too much to leave you where you are. God wants to move in – and if that is going to happen, then there are going to have to be changes. As much as you might want to partition off certain areas of your life – those are usually the very places where God most wants to go to work. Do you carry around ancient hurts and resentments? Do you have compulsions or addictions you want no one to know about? Do you really think God is going to stop before repairing the parts of us that are most broken?
I suspect God works the same way in the church as God does in our lives. During our study of Unbinding Your Heart, we have seen God at work in people’s lives in dramatic ways. This can’t help but spill over into the way we do ministry. We are asking questions now about how we might better reach out to others with the Good News. We are looking at the way we do things from a new perspective – one that doesn’t place our wants and desires first, but considers how those who have never met Jesus or had an experience of church might feel and respond.
God is just getting started with us. For some, that can be a frightening prospect. “Don’t go messing around with MY church!” might even be our first reaction. God will honor that request – and the church, under our own steam, will slowly fade away. However, if we welcome in the cleansing, renewing wind of the Holy Spirit, anything is possible. I say, let God in and let the (figurative, if not literal) remodeling begin! I believe God has great plans for us.