Column – Painting our old house

Published 3:15 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

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We’ve been having our house painted lately. Well, at least the exterior. It’s an older house and it needs some love once in a while. Okay, to be fair the house isn’t old compared with some. It was built in the seventies.

But without some occasional maintenance, this house won’t live to be a true old age. There is wood trim that has needed to be patched up before the real painting could begin. Windows, doors and molding had to be caulked.

To my great surprise, the deck didn’t need to be completely rebuilt. Instead, only a few boards had to be replaced. After some sanding, the rest looks like it’s going to live on with a new coat of specialized deck paint.

The whole thing has been a patient, painstaking mess. The painter is as much an artist as he is a house restoration expert. He is doing a masterful job of making a series of small repairs before he paints. To be truthful, watching him solve problems and give attention to detail has inspired confidence.

Something important happened within the last week, though. The job reached the point where I can tell just how nice the house will look when this is all over. Sure, there are shutters still to be hung back up. There is equipment everywhere. Our deck furniture is strewn across the back yard.

But now the thing has turned a corner and with a bit of imagination we can see that the house is going to be stunning. About right now, it would be important for you to know that we didn’t change one color from what it was before. The paints we are using will simply restore the house to a crisper, more vivid version of what it was.

You see, we liked the basic look of the place. We thought that what the previous owner had done with the colors was classic and good. So, we didn’t need some drastic overhaul in choices just to feel like the paint job was worth it.

At some point, this whole experience becomes a metaphor. Soon, every piece of wood that has been patched will have disappeared underneath a layer or two of paint. Every line of caulk and every bead of molding will be covered.

Nevertheless, the transformation will be so nice. Everything he has done under the paint itself will actually over time be the more important layer of the job. But soon no one will be able to drive up and see all that.

In 2 Corinthians 5: 17, we hear some hopeful words of faith. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, everything is made new.” These words speak not only of eternal salvation. They speak also of a chance for everything inside us that needs transformation to be repaired.

That is, if our acceptance of Jesus is real then we will be restored. Jesus may meet us where we are, but he will not leave us where he found us. At its most vital, the Christian faith is not to be a surface matter at all.

For so many, our faith has been made to sound like a moment of decision only. It has been made to sound like a mere oath. These beginnings are important. But rather than simply slip on a covering veneer that appears Christian, something deeper is intended. Rather than only talk about being a disciple of Jesus, eventually we have to become one.

The apostle Paul captured the essence of Jesus’ instructions in the passage we heard earlier. He brought to powerful words a summary of Jesus’ constant efforts to disciple and grow those who followed him.

If our faith is real, then what will last happens underneath all the appearances. What will be repaired, restored and sometimes thrown away should be the parts of us that don’t match up with who Jesus was.

A genuine faith will strip away harmful selfishness. A true faith will patch up where old attitudes and biases once eroded us. A real and lasting encounter with Christ will work more extensively inside us than may show on the outside.

Life in Jesus may not get rid of all you or I were before we accepted it. The basic essence of who we are doesn’t have to be tossed as part of the job. But where there has been rot or deterioration, some tender loving care in the hands of the master will be just what we need.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.