From Stink Bug to Lavender: Conforming to the Image of Christ
As a Louisiana girl, I am well aware of the nasty result of crushing that odd little creature, the stink bug. In case you haven’t had the dubious pleasure of encountering this little critter, here’s what it looks like. And no joke, it stinks.
My thoughts turned to the stink bug the other day as I got in my car to drive to Enid, Oklahoma, for a work event. I thought of it only because what happened caused the exact opposite aroma.
I set my travel mug of coffee in the cup holder and the most beautiful scent wafted up to greet me. I picked up my mug and looked underneath. A sprig of lavender was nestled in the cup holder, now crushed by my coffee mug. My husband and I had planted some lavender in our flowerbeds over the weekend and he had placed a sprig in my car to surprise me with its fragrance.
Crushing the lavender enhanced the aroma. I set my mug back down on it and again, I got a whiff of that lovely smell.
Spiritual application: God allows trials, pressures, and hardships in our lives to crush us for His purposes. When these first occur to us as believers, the stink can be incredible! Think stink bug awful. All that wordly thinking, selfish ambition, lustful desires, stubborn choices, prideful opinions, and snarky self-centeredness is being squeezed out of us until all that remains is Him.
This takes time.
A lifetime, in fact.
In Christian terms, it’s called sanctification, which is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. We’ve been redeemed through His precious blood, but the maturation process continues.
But take heart. As Christians, we all go through this refining process as we “grow up” in our faith. It isn’t something to dread or fear, but it is cause for rejoicing. It means He is treating us like His very own children. He loves us dearly and won’t leave us in our stinky state.
James 1:2-4 describes God’s refining process this way, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
2 Peter 1:4-8 says, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, how does the Bible tell us to deal with these trials of our faith?
Consider them an opportunity for great joy. Rejoice because we can begin to understand Jesus’ suffering.
Realize He is developing in you the grit (endurance) necessary for fulfilling His purposes in you. The harder the test, the greater the testimony. The intensity of our testing may indicate the level of our calling.
Recognize God’s process: faith leads to goodness to knowledge to self-control to perseverance to godliness to mutual affection to love. These traits will make us effective and productive for the Kingdom of God.
God is working the nature of His Son Jesus Christ into us. Our task is simply to cooperate with Him and with His process of sanctification, learning to trust Him, repent when necessary, and receive His forgiveness, cleansing, and healing. Repentance isn’t a once and done act. Yes, there is initial repentance when we come to Christ, but we must learn to walk in repentance as well. When God puts His loving finger on a sinful area of our life that needs attention, we should submit and repent.
Godly repentance always ushers in a season of refreshing in the presence of God: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19 NIV
God desires to transform us from the inside out, filling us with the sweet-smelling fragrance of Christ. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we now can walk in the promises of God.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
The sanctification process reveals even further depth to His great love for us. Jesus is not just the Author but the Finisher of our faith.
Let’s allow Him to crush us for His glory.
From stink bug to lavender… and beyond.