For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:19-20 (NRSV)
After the “Fixer-Upper” clients purchase one of the run down houses they’ve seen the real work begins. Chip’s specialty is demolition, tearing out the ugly stuff like dated wallpaper and smelly carpet. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit abides in us, He can remove things that shouldn’t be there like cutthroat competition, all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants and depersonalizing everyone into a rival (Galatians 5:19-20 MSG).
Demolition is important, but renovation doesn’t end there. The other host of “Fixer-Upper,” Chip’s wife, Joanna, is the visionary. She helps clients see the house not as it is but how it can be. She uncovers the hardwood floors under carpet, reorganizes the kitchens for better flow, and makes the house more welcoming. In a similar way the Holy Spirit redecorates our lives—helping us become more Christ-like by replacing the ugly things we’re tearing out with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity and the ability to direct our energies wisely.
There are two more things I think we can learn about our Christian walk from “Fixer Upper.” One is that the renovation of our lives is a long-term process. At our house there is always something that needs to be fixed, painted or added. The same is true of my life; however, the Holy Spirit isn’t going anywhere—He specializes in long-term projects.
I believe the most important lesson we can learn from “Fixer-Upper” and other renovation shows is about control. When people agree to go on the show they basically surrender control to the show’s hosts. They trust Chip and Joanna to keep their promises. For the Holy Spirit to renovate our lives according to God’s plans, we have to surrender and give God control.
At the end of each “Fixer-Upper” episode comes “The Big Reveal.” The clients stand in front of a giant photo of the house the way it looked when they bought it. Chip and Joanna pull the photo aside to reveal the renovated home. Mouths drop open, eyes widen, and sometimes tears even start flowing. The expressions clearly say: “I can’t believe that’s the same house!”
I hope as we look back over our lives as Christians we have those same kinds of moments. “I can’t believe I’m such a different person than I was before I knew Christ!” But the renovation of our lives depends on how willing we are to surrender to and cooperate with the Holy Spirit abiding in us. That’s the secret.
j. B. Phillips puts it this way in his paraphrase of Colossians 1:27: The secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come. Invite Christ to abide in you and renovate your life from the inside out—and see what glorious things will come!