Monday, January 10, 2005

Building Models as a Metaphor for the Fruitful Christian Life: Following the Instructions

There is another dynamic common to building models and living a fruitful Christian life: the results of following instructions.

Some models turn out better than others
The end quality of a model is directly related to how closely one follows the instructions.
One child eye balls it, putting the model together without looking at the instructions. That results in something that resembles the picture on the box, but only in a general way. Although the end product will definitely be identifiable as replica of the model’s subject, a lot of the details are absent, some parts don’t line up, and it can’t do all the things that it could have if it was built per the instructions.

Another reads and more or less follows the instructions, but skips some difficult steps. The end product is noticeably better, but still not all there. It looks more like the picture than the first child’s product, and is able to do more, but the skipped steps prevent it from being all it was designed to be.

A third child takes the time to really understand the instructions; he reads them, rereads them, and thinks about them until he understands them. He asks for help to make sure he really “gets it.” He does his best to follow those instructions, even the challenging parts, asking others for special help with them. His model will turn out closest to the ideal. It’s the most like it's supposed to be and comes closest to being able to do all the things the designer intended.

Some lives are more fruitful than others
We see the same pattern in the church.

Some folks don’t spend much time in God’s word. They basically wing it. Through the gifts of the Spirit, their lives do indeed resemble Jesus’, but in a rough kind of way. They are missing some things, other parts of their lives don’t quite line up, and they don't do nearly as much as God made them capable of doing.

Others do spend time in the Word, God’s instructions, and do try to live by it most of the time. But some things seem too hard and parts of their lives are not fully submitted to God. They look more like the ideal, but the ways they deviate from the instructions definitely degrades their performance.

Finally, there are those who spend enough time in the Word, and in prayer, to realize what needs done. They ask God, and their fellow believers, to help them live out God’s will, particularly the tough parts. They make the most of what God gives them and come closest to what God has in mind.

Now we all know that none of us will perfectly implement God’s instructions, just as no one (at least no one I knew) ever perfectly assembled a model. But there’s no denying that the quality of our walk is directly related to how closely we follow God’s instructions.

(A series of images dealing with building models was posted January 10, 2005 here, here, here, and here.
Images about conforming/yielding to God were posted September 12a, 18a, 18b, 18d, and 23; October 3 and 3a, November 6; and 21, December 8, 12, and 15, 2004 and January 10d, February 18, May 11, June 18 and 27; August 21 and 27; and October 3, 2005.
Images about the importance of exercising the spiritual disciplines were posted September 17a, 18a, and 18d, and October 3a, and 8, 2004 and January 10d and August 27, 2005.)

No comments: