It’s getting close to State Fair time here in Minnesota and that means there will be lots of music to listen to, crowds to navigate, parking spots to claim, and foods to enjoy! One of my favorite places to visit on the fairgrounds is the Dairy Building. The main reason is because I love ice cream and it’s not too far away from the Milk Stand where, for a few bucks, you can drink all of the milk your stomach can handle. But another unique aspect to this building is the cooler that houses the butter. And not just any butter…but hunks of butter with faces in them! Each year, the winner of the Dairy Princess Program gets the distinct honor of sitting in a cooler in the Dairy Building and having their likeness immortalized and carved into a block of butter. What a grand scene! It might not be something that you put on display on your fireplace mantel or post to Instagram, but it is quite the process to watch. It’s amazing to watch the sculptor take a square block of butter and transform it and refine it into something entirely different…something more amazing than what was originally there…something new within the old.
Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture or a woodcarver whittle on a stump? Or maybe an architect draw the design to a building or a sculptor carve into a block of ice or stone? It can be quite something to marvel at the process that they go through to turn something ordinary, or something incomplete, into a completed, extraordinary masterpiece. Sometimes the process looks painstakingly difficult or challenging. Sometimes, the time and effort it seems to take doesn’t appear like it will be worth it. Many times, the finished product looks nothing like the model or what was seen in the early stages. These things are truly a work in progress.
This brings us to another reality that hits a little closer to home for each of us. As we have seen these past several weeks exploring the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians Church, his main message is for them to recognize the supreme and finished work of Christ in their lives. Jesus’ death on the cross has forever set them free from sin, death, and the requirements of the Law. But this finished work reveals an ongoing work. Paul writes that these Colossians Christians, and those of us at Oak Hill Church, are also works in progress. In Colossians 3:9-10, Paul writes that this work of being refined and reshaped is a present and ongoing action “…since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
This is a great reminder for us that, as new creations in Christ, we are called to live in this new reality of being renewed and refined into the image of Christ. There will be days where we don’t feel like we are being refined and there will be days where we won’t see much for renewal, but it’s not about us…it’s about the promises of God that says that He is doing a new thing in our lives. It’s about trusting that when God claims us as His Children and we become new creations because of what Jesus has done for us, then the process begins of turning us into something new…something better than what our old, sinful selves was delivering to us. The Apostle John describes this ongoing process this way: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Maybe you feel like you are a hunk of shapeless butter, but if you are in Christ, God is doing a refining work in your life to transform you into something beautiful…a masterpiece that looks more and more like Jesus.
Trusting the process,
Pastor Ben Bigaouette