Have you ever wondered why the earth doesn’t have as many craters as the moon? Not long ago, I found my gaze locked onto the massive full moon in the darkness of the night sky and I couldn’t believe the detail I could see in the moon’s deep craters that were contrasted with its pale surface.
While the view was amazing, I couldn’t help but noticing that the moon itself is not terribly attractive. My eyes could not detect the scenes we’ve become accustomed to admiring here on earth – no greenery, no oceans, no golden sand dunes, no snow peaked mountains, no life. I was frozen with my interest given over to scars, placed by space rocks as reminders of the harshness of creation.
Why, again, does the moon have so many more craters than earth? The answer is simply that it doesn’t have more craters. Instead, our earthly craters are covered by vegetation. They’ve been eroded, their features softened by our elements which are missing from the moon’s environment. Instead of our masses of water, slowly doing its work, or tectonic plates continually shifting, erasing previous features like shaking a giant etch-a-sketch, the moon sits mostly unbothered since its origins.
I began to consider how thankful I am to God for the incredibly rare beauty that exists here on earth when it’s missing from other space objects like our moon. God has orchestrated such a vast array of circumstances that have created the perfect environment for stunning scenery to thrive. It’s amazing.
Then, I began to think about myself and the ways I might resemble the moon when I so hope to look like the earth.
You see, that night, I began to create an image of spiritual growth, or sanctification, in my mind. I began to imagine two different realities and two different versions of myself. I saw both a pleasant, polished, Christ-like version of myself and a gritty, harsh, hard version, standing side-by-side. The first was large, vibrant, and fruitful. The second was so small, sad, and useless. Why the difference? How did the two different versions of myself come to be?
I thought of the comparison that Paul made in 1 Corinthians 6 between the unrighteous behavior of some in the Corinthian church (particularly involving lawsuits) and the behavior of those outside of the Church altogether. They were acting selfishly, motivated by the flesh, but Paul pointed out in verse 11 that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Similarly, in Ephesians 2:8, Paul tells the church in Ephesus that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” This, of course, is our answer to how the two versions of myself come to be: for the glory of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. His grace makes me clean. That is what prompts the difference, but how does He actually accomplish this spiritual growth?
That question took my mind to Romans 5:3-5. In it, Paul tells his audience that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Just as the earth is stunningly gorgeous compared to the moon because of forces that are continually brushing off the rough crater-edges, so a spiritually mature believer is beautifully Christ-like compared to their former fleshly selves which were without the work of God that has brushed off their rough edges through sufferings producing endurance, character, hope, and this all, ultimately, because of the love of God, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit!
I apologize for the lengthy sentence, but this stuns me. God’s work in our hearts, which include trials, tribulations, and of course the faithfulness of community, the balm of prayer, the ministry of His Word, etc., make us look healthier and more polished, like the earth, where the version of ourselves without God’s grace in these methods looks rough like the moon. It is all – absolutely all of it – God’s grace.
And that is precisely why I pray to God daily that He might make me look more and more like Jesus. That He might give me His unyielding compassion (Matthew 9:36), His servant’s heart (Mark 10:45), His sacrificial forgiveness (Luke 23:34), His boundless love (Romans 5:8), His heartbreaking commitment (Matthew 26:39), His gracious gentleness (Matthew 11:29), His enduring patience (2 Peter 3:9), His renowned self-control (Matthew 4:1-11), His seemingly impossible humility (Philippians 2:5-11), and so many other attributes I would be honored to hold. May we continually seek to testify to the goodness of the King who drew us to Himself and graced us with the love of a Father that we so desperately needed. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May we all seek to channel others to this Father through this One we call the Way (John 14:6).
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff