‘There’s nothing much good on the telly these days!’ is a complaint I seem to hear a lot when visiting parishioners. Despite the huge choice of channels folk are often heard to say, ‘It’s all repeats!’ or even, ‘A lot of old nonsense!’
Of course tastes and fashions vary. We may not always find something to interest us. We’re not supposed to spend too much time staring at screens anyway. Perhaps we could at times find something more useful to do!
We don’t watch a lot of television in our house but I’ll admit there is one kind of show my wife and I both enjoy. You might call them ‘transformation’ programmes. Do you know what I mean? Ones where someone discovers something of tremendous value under a pile of dust in the garage or attic. Or ones in which some brave souls take on a seemingly impossible task of restoration.
Putting themselves at financial risk they purchase some old ruined building or vehicle because they have a vision of what it could be. It was about to be knocked down or condemned to the scrap heap but they rescue it and set about transforming it into a dream home or classy ride. Friends and neighbours and possibly even the presenter think they’re crazy but they are determined to see their grand idea through.
The drama comes about over the next weeks and months as the cameras record their joys and tribulations on the project. They discover rust and rot. Walls collapse. Water seeps in. Legal permissions are delayed. Parts are no longer available and must be made from scratch. They are stressed out but refuse to give up and neither do the viewers. We’re waiting for the final few moments when all will be revealed!
Eventually it comes, the sunny day when the presenter walks down the lane to inspect the finished work and we all gasp in amazement at how something which had been so hopelessly derelict is now a thing of elegance and beauty. For a moment we imagine ourselves inhabiting those gracious rooms, enjoying those spectacular views or being the envy of other road users. It took them months of hard effort, us just half an hour and a fresh cuppa, but the transformation is complete.
These programmes actually illustrate quite brilliantly some of the terms of Christian theology we ministers are taught in college. Someone becoming a follower of Jesus involves some serious remedial work from our Maker:
‘Justification’ is the point in time where God declares us ‘righteous’. He ‘buys the property’ as it were, moving our names from the file marked ‘condemned’ and ‘rejected’ to the one marked ‘accepted’ and ‘passed’. At the greatest personal cost, He saves us because He has a vision of what we could be!
‘Sanctification’ follows as a gradual process in which He is lovingly transforming us into something much better, even at times quite beautiful. It takes time, the rest of our earthly lives in fact, but He considers us worth the effort. There are challenges and setbacks but also days of real progress. The ‘Grand Restorer’ doesn’t give up, neither should we.
New Testament Apostles frequently enthuse about ‘renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.’ (Titus 3 v 5-7)
One day God’s people will stand faultless before His heavenly throne, gloriously restored by His grace in Christ. What a day of celebration that will be!