Ice sculptures fascinate me. To know that someone can take a large block of ice and somehow form it into an animal, a table decoration, or even into the shape of a cartoon character for a winter wonderland scene always amazes me. What’s even more fascinating is to think about how it’s accomplished. A family friend, who is a master chef, learned years ago how to carve ice sculptures for his catering business. He explained the process to me one time and I was shocked to discover it starts with a chainsaw. As he’s standing before a large block of ice, thinking through how to begin shaping his sculpture, his first tool is a chainsaw. He makes large cuts into the ice to roughly form the ice into the image he desires. After bringing it down to size, per say, he begins to bring out smaller tools and starts doing more intricate work. At this point he uses chisels, saws, ice breakers, and various other instruments to take an image from his mind and create a masterpiece.
It’s difficult to create a masterpiece. It takes time and effort. There is carving, stepping back to see the project, and then more carving. Each stroke of the chisel causes parts of the ice block to break away. Each stroke in some sense damages the block of ice, cutting grooves and shapes in what was once a large rectangle. However, each stroke is important, each groove needed. In the hands of an unskilled craftsman, each stroke of the chisel would cause destruction, but when completed by a master craftsman, each stroke ultimately leads to a finished masterpiece.
We all want to be a masterpiece. We all want to be something beautiful, formed by the creator of all into what God desires us to become. We don’t want to be trash or second rate. We want to shine on the wall of the art gallery, not be thrown in the recycle bin outside.
We all want to be a masterpiece, but do we want to go through the process of being formed into a masterpiece by God? Imagine God standing over us with a chisel, each stroke removing that which is in us which is not of God. Each stroke at times bring pain to our lives, yet each stroke is necessary. Are we willing to let God confront the sins in our lives, and remove the sins from our lives?
It’s painful to confront sin. It’s hard to admit to others, even a small group of trusted friends, our mistakes and shortcomings. It’s hard to allow the Spirit to convict us of sin, a trait that John says is one of the Spirits primary responsibilities.
No one ever enjoys the part of our yearly evaluations at work when our boss shares with us our growth areas. Even when our overall evaluation is positive, growth areas are a reminder that we have fallen short. We don’t enjoy when our mistakes are pointed out to us. We view mistakes as failure. We worry that others are better than us. We know that changing who we are takes effort and energy, and we’re not quite sure we want to expend the energy. It’s not fun to dwell on the negative, we’d rather dwell on the positive. We’d rather focus on our areas of strength, and in essence pretend our weaknesses don’t exist.
Yet God wants us to become Christlike, which means that God wants to chisel away at the parts of us which are not like Christ, and remove them. God wants to deal with our anger, our pride, our dishonesty, our impurity, our malice, and our covetousness. God wants to remove those parts in our lives which have no business being present, and replace them with fruits of the Spirit.
Being conformed to God’s image is not just a simple endeavor. We can’t just do it when it’s convenient or we have some extra time. If we wait for convenience we will never change. Instead, we are called to put our old self to death. It’s violent language because sin is not something to play with or treat as unimportant. Sin is a tragedy. A tragedy that separated us from God, and caused the Son to die a painful, humiliating death to gain our freedom. Sin must be confronted, no matter how painful or embarrassing.
If we are going to put our sins to death than we need to start confronting our sins. Not just making blanket statements about how we are sinful people, but actually confronting sins, confessing sins, naming the ways that we fall short of God’s desire, and asking the Spirit to chisel us back into Christlikeness.
It will not be easy. It will be painful. The result, however, will be a masterpiece for God’s glory.