Crushed to Conform to Christ's Character
God allows the Cornerstone to crush us.
In ancient construction, a cornerstone was laid first and the foundation and subsequent structure were measured against it. The cornerstone was perfectly square, the same length and height on all sides. Each corner was a perfect 90-degree angle. The entire construction of the building was based on the perfect measurements of the cornerstone, the structure remaining in alignment as it rose.
When we line up with the Cornerstone of our faith, Jesus Christ, our lives become grounded and stable. If not, we may end up with the spiritual equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Or more likely, in total collapse.
However, God uses that collapse to rebuild us by His design. A complete crushing of our indomitable will is often necessary for us to realize the futility of our human efforts to measure up to God’s holy standard.
“The higher the calling and grace, the deeper the crushing will be.” – Jeremiah Johnson
Once the Cornerstone is laid when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, every aspect of our structure must line up with it. To have a spiritual home that stays strong under pressure and fulfills the purposes for which it was designed, we must remain true to the divine blueprint.
God’s Word, the Bible, is the Master Plan.
But we must surrender our right to build as we see fit, recognizing the Architect’s plan is perfect and will result in a structure that fulfills our design – for His glory. We also should never resist the Builder’s obligation to restructure as he sees fit.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity said it best: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
If you’ve ever seen a home with a sagging foundation, sloping floors, cracked walls, and doors that won’t shut, you know the solution won’t be simple or inexpensive. So it is with our lives. When God fixes us, He has eternity, not cost-cutting and time-saving measures in mind. He doesn’t go for the quick patch job.
God often uses hardships to refine us for His purposes.
Like the story of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 37), we sometimes have a dream that looks like it will never be fulfilled.
Joseph literally had two dreams when he was a teenager of his parents and eleven brothers bowing down to him. He made the unwise choice to share that dream with his family. Already jealous of Joseph’s position of special favor with his father Jacob, his brothers tossed him in a pit and then sold him into slavery. He landed in Egypt, probably still wondering what hit him.
Joseph wasn’t wrong. His God-inspired dreams certainly revealed his prophetic gifting. You can’t convince me God didn’t know what a teenage boy with ten older brothers would do with a loaded dream like that! God would have known Joseph couldn’t keep these dreams to himself. In fact, He was counting on it.
God used Joseph’s indiscretion to move him to the place he would one day rule and reign.
God knew the goal. But Joseph needed to be broken first, go through the fire, and finally emerge a refined vessel for God’s service on the other end.
And learn the hard way he did: betrayal by his brothers, unjust accusation from his employer, prison time, until God promoted him to the guy in charge, second only to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Joseph’s character needed to match his high calling, and only God could accomplish that transformation.
Fast forward to the end of the story (Genesis 45) All his brothers are bowing before Joseph, seeking food during a severe famine, when he says, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (v. 4-5)
The dream was fulfilled, but not in a way anyone imagined. The transformation was complete for Joseph. His character matched his calling, by God’s grace. He was able to see God’s hand in ordering his steps and show mercy to the brothers who betrayed him.
God connected the dots for Joseph after many years and tears. God can and will do the same for us.
Accepting the Cornerstone of Christ Jesus will break us, in all the right places. We can’t measure up on our own, but God can build us and accomplish through us things we never dreamed possible. Our task is simply to submit to His loving hand.
God is equipping us to reign.
For more on laying a solid foundation in Christ, see prior post, "Aligning with Heaven Reaps Rewards NOW."
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