As a young man, throughout my high school and college years, I worked summers as a mechanic, welder and metalworker on heavy construction equipment.
One thing I learned early: Metal doesn’t change shape without a fight.
High heat and blunt force are usually required to forge or bend metal. In some forms of artistic metal sculpturing, red hot sheets of steel or brass are repeatedly hammered around a mandrel, which has been carefully crafted to define the desired shape of the end-product.
This is a laborious, noisy, dirty process for the metalworker, and an intensely unpleasant experience for the metal being fashioned (if it could speak).
God’s lifelong process of spiritually transforming ordinary Christians into “iron saints” — as Oswald Chambers was fond of saying — is surprisingly similar.
Observe the parallels:
» The metal has no idea what the metalworker has in mind.
“Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”
— Romans 9:20
Our job is to have faith in our divine Creator’s good intentions.
» The metalworker never consults the metal for its opinion.
“O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?
— Romans 9:21
“Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?”
— Isaiah 29:16-17
Our supremely skilled Creator doesn’t need our advice along the way.
» The metalworker begins with a carefully designed mandrel around which the metal is formed.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”
— Romans 8:28-29
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
— Romans 12:2
God’s Son, His “Last Adam” is our prototype.
» The metalworker starts by turning up the heat.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
— 1 Peter 4:12-13
Life’s stresses, e.g. COVID-19 tend to make us malleable, more likely to listen.
» The metalworker applies force with a selection of hammers to form the metal.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
— 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
For some, a ball peen hammer will do, for others (like me), a sledgehammer is required.
» The metalworker keeps on relentlessly until the metal has taken the desired shape.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
— 1 John 3:2-3
And what a glorious outcome it will be in the right “metalworker’s” hands: “… children of God … we will be like Him!” Wow!
No Easy Path
Some might say, “Hey, that’s not for me; being a Christian is too hard!” But have you ever thought about how hard it is NOT to be a Christian? Especially at the end?
Still others might consider joining the seemingly endless parade of “name it and claim it” preachers, promising blue skies, wealth, comfort and entertainment in First Class on a turbulence-free flight to heaven — of course, this only happens as long as you “call the number at the bottom of their screens” and send boodles of cash immediately.
Chambers once wrote: “God is not saying, ‘I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.’ In essence, He is saying, ‘I will get you out of bed — out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.’”
How About You?
There is another “metalworker” in the universe, Satan, who delights in shaping humans into his dark serpentine image. He got away with it in the Garden of Eden for a season and Jesus Christ had to die on the cross to reverse the catastrophic damage.
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at email@example.com. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.