By Jason Moore
Pastor, New Creation Presbyterian Church
A few weeks ago, I was meeting with one of the leaders of our church. I asked him a question that I’d been pondering for a while. “Are you okay with the reality that, in this life, you will never be finished?” I’d venture to say that most of us don’t like the idea of being unfinished.
How do you feel about unfinished business? I like to do projects around the house. I have years of remodeling experience after rehabbing a house in St. Louis and now making changes to my home in Wentzville. I have very little trouble starting a job. My struggle is finishing it. As I type this, a piece of baseboard is staring at me. I have an office in our recently “finished” basement. The room is 95 percent finished, but there are a few little jobs that still need to be done. (Seriously, I wish this baseboard would stop looking at me.)
The unfinished nature of my “finished” basement would bother me more if I didn’t have so much other unfinished business in my life. There is so much work to be done. So many things that I’d like to do with my time on this earth. I will never be able to complete all that I’d like to start. I will never finish all the work I could do at home, at church, in the community, with my family and on and on. Maybe I’d be less bothered by all this “unfinished business” if I myself was finished.
In his letter to his friends at Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the at the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s good news. The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the “founder and protector of our faith.”
If you are a follower of Christ, then God is radically committed to finishing the work he has started in you. That’s great news. But, it’s not always easy to live in light of this reality.
With each passing day, I become more aware of how much work God has to do in my heart, mind and soul. I’m in this Christian process called “sanctification.”
Sanctification is the “work of God’s free grace by which we are renewed throughout in the image of God.” In other words, God in his kindness and mercy works in us to make us new. To restore the weakness and brokenness that comes from being fallen creatures. He forgives our sin, exposes our deepest issues and brings healing to our souls. He gives us strength for everyday living as he empowers us to be more like our perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. Our gracious God is working on his people.
One of the reasons I like doing projects is because every once and a while I need to see something finished. Building a cabinet or laying tile on a floor gives me hope. It is a reminder that one day I will be finished. But, seeing finished work also reminds me of something else.
In order for people like you and me to be finished, work had to be done. We can’t do the work of saving our own souls. We try. That’s what religion is about. Working hard to earn God’s favor. That’s work we definitely can’t finish. But, the work I can’t finish was finished by someone else. Jesus, the author and finisher, has done the work necessary for me (and you) to be declared righteous and reconciled to God.
Finished work reminds me that Jesus’ work is complete. There is nothing left for me to do to be in a right relationship with God. By God’s unmerited favor and kindness, I’ve been brought into God’s loving care. Jesus accomplishes what I cannot. Because of grace, I can rest from any efforts to save myself or to prove my worth.
By that same grace, I am being perfected. God, in his mercy, is working to expose the broken parts of me that only he can heal. Through the work of God’s Holy Spirit we can die to sin and be made alive to righteousness. It’s a hard process, but a good process. Being unfinished means there are still difficult moments. I don’t always love my wife well. I’m not always psyched to do my job. I’m not always an engaged and enthusiastic father. I’m not always a good friend or even a good person.
But, when I doubt that God is capable of finishing his work on a wretch like me, I can look to the finished work of Jesus. If Jesus has finished the work necessary for me to be saved then he will fulfill his promises to finish his work in me. That process will take time. It might be messy. The baseboards may not get installed until Jesus comes back. But, the one who began a good work will finish it.
I’m ok with being unfinished because the one who always finishes his work has promised to finish me.