-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
Years ago, I worked construction on the makeover of the San Diego Hilton Beach and Tennis Resort, with dozens of bungalows, a two-story luxury hotel built in wings off a massive ballroom, and an eight-story hotel tower.
One thing I was surprised to learn was how many commercial tradesmen did shabby work, even on big, high dollar jobs. Over the months, as the two-year job dragged on, I heard more and more framers, drywallers, and edifice workers say “Good enough,” as they walked away from less than perfect work.
The prevailing notion was that the finish carpenters, painters, stucco workers and landscape designers would have to figure out how to cover over every short-cut board, off-kilter corner, and dinged-up styrofoam form and make it look acceptable in the end.
This struck me as shoddy, less than what the owners of the resort were paying for – and less than what the general contractor was expecting from the sub-contractors.
I was both right and wrong.
It was less than ideal, and both the owners and the bosses didn’t like it… but they were resigned to it. Over years in business they’d come to expect that the work undergirding the image they wanted to project would be weak work.
They knew that the lifespan of the fresh new look would be shorter because it was superficial, built up with the masonry equivalent of Bondo.
With beach resorts, good solid undergirding means the wear of coastal salt air, sea fog and wind will be easily fixable by hotel maintenance, but bad work and lots of patching to get a cosmetic, patched finish means bigger repairs and more contractors before long.
The key two components in a person’s growth as a follower of Christ are sanctification and discipleship.
The former is what God is doing within the believer, transforming them from within and making them a new creation. The Bible refers to some of this as being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
We cooperate with the process of sanctification by focusing on God and reading the scripture, submitting ourselves to the ancient wisdom within and the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance.
The latter, discipleship, is the process of being invested in by others, just as Jesus invested in the original disciples, then they in turn found others in whom to invest.
One challenge with discipleship is folks who hinder the sanctification process within themselves by not coming into agreement with God or agreeing in principle but disobeying in weakness or contesting God for each inch of growth.
Like that resort, the outside looks good with superficial efforts to hide unfinished work, but
the inside is off-kilter and life’s normal wear and tear exposes all of the things underneath that still need to be made right.
Of course, none of us are perfected, and all of us are a work-in-progress somewhere along the linear scale of change.
Yet, when you run into a seemingly seasoned Christian who speaks the language, knows the words to many of the songs and hymns, and can quote many scriptures, but they lose their mind at a traffic merge point, boxing out a car trying to get into “their” lane while spitting curses at their windshield… you’ve found someone who's likely fighting God for every inch of internal growth/true transformation.
The reason God’s word says that we know no man’s heart is because any of us can put on the outside appearance of a follower of Christ – Lord knows there are many TV preachers whose god is fame, money, and private planes, yet their sheep’s clothing leads thousands to follow them and hold them in high esteem.
True transformation starts from the foundation, rebuilding a broken life on the solid rock of God’s mercy, grace and love, beseeching Him to wrench our mess from us when we struggle to leave it at the foot of the cross.
The upside of this raw, digging process is that when that new life is blooming on that foundation and the workmanship is set right and plum (God’s word say’s we’re then poema – functional art, the work of His hands), there’s no need for a masking facade.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.