Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13
A few years back, we were cleaning out my grandparent's house. Decades of memories, we gently placed in either moving boxes or the trash bin. We worked all day to get the house ready to be shown by the local realtor. Eventually, we got their place cleared except for a few large pieces of furniture – couches, beds, tables, and desks.
As we took a break and rested our bones before the final push, my eyes went to one item that had always grabbed my attention as a kid. When I would walk in the door for a holiday dinner, it was the first thing I noticed.
In a golden decorative hutch, my grandparents displayed their most delicate china and crystal. Every item immaculately kept. The glasses sparkled. The bowls flickered in the light. The plates shined. Each piece had its place. After the scolding I received when I put my fingers on the cabinet glass as a toddler, I quickly realized how treasured the objects inside were to my grandmother.
This china was so valuable to her; it never left the confines of the cabinet. Even for special meals on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, we ate off of regular plates. The china was of ultimate value but never used.
As believers in Christ, we have something more priceless than the items in my grandmother's hutch. We can't afford to make the mistake of treating our faith like china. Our theology and the hope and freedom we have in Christ can't remain in the cabinet.
Our values can't merely be lip service. They are meant to be lived out. We must take our faith out of our comfortable hutch.
A walk with God requires us to put our faith into action; something "Comfortable Christianity" resists at all costs. It's easier to consume ourselves with our wants and desires. Yes, inside the hutch, we might be safe, protected, and insulated. But, we are missing the opportunity to be used by God to bring Him glory.
Denying ourselves and picking up our cross isn't something we can believe in theory, but a challenging step we need to take if we desire to reflect God's image. When we aren't placing ourselves in environments that stretch us, we can foolishly believe we are more patient, loving, generous, and forgiving than we are. We can say we value things like love, forgiveness, grace, and understanding, yet they are just aspirations we have if those values aren't visible in our words and action.
When we choose inconvenience, the gaps between what we think our convictions are and reality come to light. Transformation occurs in those moments when we are willing to deny ourselves. We can pinpoint where our actions don't line up with our perceived values. We get confronted with the places where we resist dying to ourselves and letting go of our agenda. God's Truth is far from safe and was never intended to remain theoretical.
Where do your values not line up with your actions? What is creating this disconnect?
God, it takes no effort to appear loving, kind, compassionate, and forgiving when everything is going my way, and according to my agenda. Often I avoid places where I know my faith will be tested, and my heart will display its actual state. Today, may I step into challenging situations, knowing it's in these circumstances where You mold me into Your image. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.