Last week I was blessed to have some time to work on house renos. Purchasing a fixer-upper of an old farm house has meant some very interesting renovation finds. This trend continued as I began renovating the old summer kitchen off of the back of the main house. While the main house was structurally sound and true (meaning level or straight), the old summer kitchen was another matter. A combination of a poor foundation, improper work on load bearing walls (all now fixed btw), etc, the centre of the summer kitchen bowed considerably meaning new level windows looked as if they were out (an optical allusion). To give you an idea of just how crooked the old summer kitchen was, its walls were 1” out of level on the vertical over 4 feet and the centre of the wall sagged 3–4” from the ends.
Every time I went to fix something I kept saying, “It shouldn’t be this way!”
The Bible says much about crookedness. It speaks of crooked speech, poverty as better than being crooked yet with great riches and of a crooked generation (Dt 32:5; Acts 2:40, 13:10; Phil 2:15). However, talk of “crookedness” usually refers to something or someone being out of plumb with God’s Law or intended design. It is twisted, perverted, crooked. This imagery is frequently employed in Wisdom literature. Three examples will suffice:
And like my summer kitchen, we look around at the world and see it too is crooked. It is not as it should be. Unlike my renovations which seek to mend or fix up an old structure, that is not the promise of the Gospel. In the Gospel, Jesus promises by His Spirit to make us new, to transform us—language far more powerful than a mere makeover or renovation. We need forgiveness for our crookedness and His Spirit’s renewing power, otherwise when the chief building inspector comes on that Great Day, with the measuring tape of His Law, who will be able to stand when His just judgement falls? Certainly not the crooked, they will collapse under the weight of His wrath. However, the righteous, the straight, the believer in Jesus, he will stand on that great day, Christ bearing Him up and being the righteousness he could never be.
May we look to Christ with the promise of being made straight and true in accordance with His truth.
When our toddler son articulated the reality that we had purchased a new home but were still temporarily living in our old one as we undertook renovations he described it as the “new, new house.” Affectionately, this is the way we’ve come to describe our new home.
As many who have helped us will testify, it has been a fixer-upper. The saving grace is that the roof and foundation were in good repair, much in between that high and low has required substantial initial repairs and improvements. The walls and basement needed insulation. The floors took two men 5 days to sand back to their original state, thanks to a build-up of stain, floor wax and linoleum glue. The walls needed patching, puttying and in some cases dry walling (and not to mention the sanding). There was some framing to do, some plumbing, and new light fixtures. Then there were the coats and coats of paint and the many other little jobs (and the gardens to come!). The “new, new house” didn’t involve a simple lick of paint, rather it was a true transformation (see pictures below).
There is a spiritual analogy here. Christianity is not just about covering up the old walls with a fresh coat of paint, we’re in a far needier place than this. To assume we simply need some touch ups is to fail to appreciate how absolutely corrupt and depraved we are as humans and the dire spiritual state we are in before a holy God. Such a faulty presumption would be works righteousness: legalism, that we can achieve a right standing before God; liberalism, that we are good enough to please Him through our charitable deeds; or even Christianity-lite, that we simply need His grace a little bit.
Paul says in Ro 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
We are all, naturally, like a wretch, abandoned, derelict, fixer-upper. We are fit for no good spiritual purpose and we deserve to be torn down or have the match set to us.
What hope is there? None in works, but only in the grace and transforming power of God available through faith in the Gospel and by His Spirit.
Later in Romans Paul speaks of the total transformation the Gospel can bring to our lives, one which is rooted in God’s work to transformationally save and not our ability to provide a meagre face-lift. Ro 12:2 speaks of being “transformed by the renewal of our minds.” The word transformed is the same as what happens to a caterpillar when it turns into something entirely new, metamorphosis.
In salvation, God completely renovations our worm-like life and transforms it into something beautiful and to His glory. It’s as if He puts His “work done by” sign in front of our house so all will stand amazed at His craftsmanship. He buys our property. He fixes everything from top to bottom. The finished result blows the top out of the wow factor, a stunning new home.
Would you recognize the desperate straits the home of your life is in? Would you repent of that and ask Jesus to renovate your life and make you new by His Spirit? In faith, be prepared to be amazed!
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.