Comfortable or Conformable

A letter or two can make a great deal of difference.

I was reading some devotional material and came to what my eyes registered as a common, familiar word. But context caused me to stop and look again.

Comfortable or conformable?

What difference does it make?

In spiritual things (and many others), the different is vast.

One is like a slow-acting poison that almost ensures our lack of growth. It is the most dangerous of luxuries and yet the default to which we cling. This limiting force entices us to thicken into spiritual couch potatoes.

The other reflects a softened lump of clay flung onto the potter’s wheel. It is that readiness to be remade, reshaped, rebuilt. It is a softness of heart, an eagerness of spirit, a submission of will that expects the result to be worth the process. This stretching  warm-up prepares us to become what we were made to be.

One is reflexive and soothing and a necessary part of our lives.

The other is often awkward and sometimes painful and also a necessary part of our spiritual lives.

Centuries ago a prophet by the name of Jeremiah was directed to walk down to the potter’s house and learn. While he watched the potter shape the lump of clay over and over until he was satisfied that it would fulfill its purpose, God helped Jeremiah see that he and you and I are just like that lump of clay. (Jeremiah 18.1-6)

hand-black-and-white-photography-wheel-craft-monochrome-1191829-pxhere.com

God’s intention for every follower of Jesus is to be “renewed after the image of its Creator.”(Colossians 3.10) That means that He intends to shape us more and more and more to be like Jesus.

So… does your life look more like you or like Jesus?

Right. Me too.

So there’s more work to be done in this transformation. And the reality that’s hard to accept is that very little growing happens when we are COMFORTABLE. It’s the same as the way that I can’t get in shape without doing uncomfortable things and things can’t be surgically repaired without being uncomfortable.

Let’s be frank about it. The only time our healthcare priority is making a patient comfortable is when there’s no more hope of healing treatment. It’s called palliative care.

Is it possible that many of us are spiritually resigned to just sit and remain comfortable? Are we ready for spiritual hospice?

There is just so much more to experience of God’s wonder and grace. And, to really get the most out of a lifelong journey with Him, we should strive tobe CONFORMABLE to His plan, yielded to His hands, like a moistened lump of clay upon the potter’s wheel.

A letter or two can make a great deal of difference.

Hope For the Future (Reprise)

Today we come to the end of what has been a very encouraging and inspiring journey through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I hope it has been a blessing to you.

The underscore of this letter is, quite simply, hope. I have called this series, “A Real Life Faith,” because I believe that faith is about embracing hope. When we are reminded of our great and glorious hope in Jesus’ promised return, our faith surges, our endurance strengthens, and our determination to see through the temporary trials and rest in the promised deliverance is built up.

You see, Paul makes very clear that, at the end of our days upon this earth as it now stands, God will finish the transforming work he began when first we believed. In chapter 5, he repeats a phrase used earlier in the letter:

“…And may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5.23.b).

What a glorious thought, isn’t it?

When that day comes that Jesus returns and calls us up and out of this sin-cursed world, the transforming of out lives that started when we put our trust in him will be fully and finally completed. And, as Paul taught us in chapter 4, “and so we will always be with the Lord.” I don’t think we can quite grasp the significance of that statement. We will be with him… never separated again, never to ache for his presence because we are in it.

My brothers and sisters, in this is hope.

Whatever life throws at us, it is only temporary. The eternal is sure. This is a real life faith.

And a real life faith is hope for the future.

Father, thank you for your promises that provide a hope beyond our ability to fully grasp. May that hope stir and strengthen and motivate our faith until that day comes.