Dear Church Family,

As someone who is renovating a house, I can say from experience that sanding by hand is hard work. This includes all levels of sanding, on all kinds of materials. It is a slow process. No matter how quickly the paper moves, the bulk of the material being removed still remains.

The alterations being made are small. There are often times when nothing seems to change, in spite of all the time spent sanding. When a slow process is coupled with small change, a large amount of energy is used to reach the desired result. Sanding is all about friction. Where there is friction, there is heat, which serves as a reminder that sanding is hard work.

But even though all of those aspects of sanding contribute to my angst toward it, the main reason sanding is so bothersome to me is that it seems endless. Who decides when a project is considered smooth? The levels of grittiness go up so high that it begins to seem like the manufacturers are just making up numbers. One person’s “Finished!” is another person’s “Just getting started,” which can be incredibly discouraging.

Similarly, in the Christian life, when God saves sinners His work has just begun. Yes, of course, the work of Christ on their behalf is finished. But, because of Christ’s completed work, God continues His work of redemption and transformation in the lives of believers. This is the process of sanctification in which Christians are made more like Christ.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Sanctification is like sanding. The process is slow—it takes a lifetime. The changes are often so small they are unperceived. The transformation is exhausting, because our aim is complete perfection. Where this metaphor breaks down is where the beauty begins to break through. Ultimately, Christians are not the sanders, we are the sanded. We are His workmanship, which He created in Christ and transforms into Christlikeness.

Although we may be unable to discern the degrees, if we have been made into new creations by God, we can rest in the reality we are being transformed by Him. It is in His transformation of us that we actively struggle for maturity, “with all His energy that He powerfully works within [us]” (Colossians 1:29).

Thank God He has committed to bring to completion the work He began in us. In His perfect plan, God has determined to use individual Christians and local churches as tools in the process of making us more like Christ. Let us then embrace His design for our lives by walking in obedience to His Word.