Constructive Construction (A Normal Christian Life)

I-beam framing of a high rise commercial building in downtown Oakland

This is the framing of the lower floors of a planned 24-story office tower that will open its doors next year. It will boast dramatic 360° views of San Francisco, the Oakland Hills, UC Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Shorenstein Properties ‘dubs’ it 601 City Center, and I highlight ‘dubs’ because it's just a block away from the Golden State Warriors headquarters. Shorenstein broke ground in Q2 of this year and they expect to build for another couple of quarters. That’s about a year of construction.

Occasionally, you might find a person or two staring at the work, but, for the most part, people just walk by this everyday activity. Business as usual.
We are more amazed when buildings are demolished. We have a peculiar fascination with the quick destruction of something grand. What takes months, maybe years, to build, can be destroyed in only days, or even hours. Society pays more attention to the quick fall of the mighty than it does the day-to-day, continued effort to develop perhaps a high-rise tower, a business, a career, a church, a family, a life. We often overlook the long-term benefit of day-to-day effort with respect to physical, social, emotional, or spiritual development. Instead, we prefer that children just grow up, or that we finally have a gratifying job, or that life can just be better. But if it all happened too fast, we would miss out on the norms and benefits of daily living.

Life, including spiritual life, is a journey. Some things can be instant with God – salvation, interaction within our activities, ‘aha moments – but much of our spiritual awareness and growth comes as a result of everyday, baby steps and periodic encroachments into our comfort zones. That’s more the norm when we commit our lives to honoring God.

Another view of the commercial building project that is further along than that of the first picture
Living for God is like the daily grind of a high-rise construction project. We have the blueprints, we've executed the contract, and now we need to do the work... Assemble the team. Secure the permits. Establish the foundation. Ratchet this. Pound that. Weld those. Measure three times. Do some heavy lifting. Operate hydraulic equipment. Meet deadlines. Scramble for resources. Don’t break the glass. Report shortcomings. Celebrate milestones. Rest for lunch. Stay safe. Do it again. And again. And again.

If this doesn’t characterize our spiritual journeys, maybe we aren’t truly on the journey.

Jesus told His disciples,
“…In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33b
(see also Romans 12:1)

Hard work accompanied by trouble is a normal way of life for Christians. It is also normal to forego much of what we desire in favor of daily sacrifice while we obey God.

Picture of the author sitting in the driver's seat of a back hoe vehicleSome Christians have stunning testimonies of how Jesus saved them from sure demise, and they memorialize freedom from the grip of sin. We gravitate toward those stories and marvel, rightfully, at the power of God. Similarly, there are others who are quite popular and enjoy the attention and prestige that come with celebrity status. (I think of pastors, musicians, and other notables.)  We like to sit at their feet or participate in their ministries. People like that are gifts from God. They’re good and necessary for the body of believers.

But a greater percentage of Christians are not at the forefront and do not have compelling come‑to‑Jesus stories. Most of us are not so sparkly. We live our daily lives and, for the most part, people don’t notice. I write this post for those people – for us. I come to you with very little fanfare, but I’m here to say, this is normal for a Christian.

Commercial building reaching far into the sky
We probably won’t stand out from the crowd. During construction, people just pass by. As the exterior details emerge, people might take a look and see that things are coming along, but that acknowledgement will fade. Even when a building is ready and the ribbon is cut, its still just another building.
Memorial fountain with victim names engraved with extra large sculpture of an eagle in the backgroundMost structures are not grand like One World Trade Center and its One World Observatory, or the campus of the 9/11 Memorial. Those landmarks will always command our attention. But most buildings are just buildings.

Don't be discouraged. Our hum drum existence is beautiful and it is designed by God. It may not always feel like it, but our mediocre presence in this world is valuable to God, and if we stick with it, there will come a time when we look back, fall humbly at God's feet, and thank Him for what He has done in us, through us, and for us. We will see that our unnoticed, daily commitment to following God was and remains to be worth the effort.

For we are co-workers in God’s service;
you are God’s field, God’s building.
By the grace God has given me,
I laid a foundation as a wise builder,
and someone else is building on it.

But each one should build with care.
For no one can lay any foundation other than
the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

If anyone builds on this foundation using
gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
their work will be shown for what it is,
because the Day will bring it to light.
It will be revealed with fire,
and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—
even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:9-15

We work, not for fanfare, but for invaluable, eternal outcomes that speak to our daily sacrifice.  We work to honor our Redeemer and Cornerstone of our faith (1 Peter 2:4-8, Ephesians 2:19‑22). In Christ, we have a firm foundation upon which to build using daily, intentional, quality steps of honor (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:46-49). No matter how small and overlooked our efforts may be, our Redeemer uses them.

Commercial building getting close to building completion with large crane next to the building. Image caption says "Build."

So, may we “never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).  Of course, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), but “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Everyday steps; everyday decisions. Daily doing what we know is right. Reading God’s Word. Praying continuously as the hours pass. Leaning on God to provide and deliver. Being kind to others. Responding with grace when challenged. Putting others before us, sometimes doing so when it hurts. Regularly meeting with Christian brothers and sisters in worship and Bible study. Regularly ministering with them or on our own. Sharing God’s truth and God’s offer of salvation as opportunities arise. Being a godly light and example in our families. So much more. All of these things are part of a normal Christian life and all of these things are often overlooked by people, but never by God (Psalms 33:18-22, 34:12-15).

As we continue to sacrifice and make ourselves vulnerable for our Lord (Luke 9:23), remember we do it with His strength. Paul reminds us that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Here's the steadfast sacrifice of the Apostle Paul:
…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

As the years pass, we can look back and be glad at how we’ve built on the Rock, an unshakable foundation.  But, for now, let’s keep our heads up, and let’s not loiter in celebration of our redemption and freedom.  Let’s keep our noses to the grind (Galatians 6:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:13) and offer quality sacrifice.  It’s a hard life, but it is rewarding (2 Timothy 3:12, Luke 9:23, James 1:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:57-58), Jesus will always be with us, and God will honor us (John 12:26).

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Christian music band on stage performing at a concert

I close with a song that I enjoyed live in October and that we sang at church last Sunday - confirmation to me that I need to publish this post.  I hope you are encouraged to remain steadfast as you daily take up your cross for the sake of Christ.
Listen to Cornerstone by Hillsong Worship (released 2012)

Read more blog posts here.
Read about leaving a legacy here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. This is my life, Stephen. I've really struggled with having a "boring" testimony. I grew up in the Church. I was a good kid. I sin just like everyone else, but I've tried following God since I was little.
    Your words are a deep truth. My mentor told me recently that the faithful ones, who simply put one foot in front of the other every day and walk with the Lord, those people are the unsung heroes of the faith. Maybe what I do isn't heroic, but it's effective and I'm working toward Kingdom purposes.
    I really liked this post. Great work!

    1. Yeah, I think, like many other things about our faith, "boring" testimonies and daily commitment should be the stand-outs. But we remain faithful for the Lord, often in a closet, don't we. I'm glad for your testimony and your ministry and I'm sure many are blessed and encouraged as a result. Thank you for sharing this comment.

  2. Beautiful message. We are special and unique because we are His and we are designed by Him. :-)

    1. Yes. That's one of the great things about our journeys. Mediocre, even less than mediocre, is perfect because we are who God decided to make us to be, and He fills in all the gaps.

  3. "Society pays more attention to the quick fall of the mighty than it does the day-to-day, continued effort to develop perhaps a high-rise tower, a business, a career, a church, a family, a life."

    That's why God has to remind us to "not be weary of doing good." We want to see results instantly. God is building souls. That takes time. Great message here! God bless!

    1. Amen. Much more happens over time - things that last and make people who they are. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. You are right—it's definitely a process. This line resonated especially: "Living for God is like the daily grind of a high-rise construction project. We have the blueprints, we've executed the contract, and now we need to do the work..."

    1. Yrs. We need the work to reach and encourage others. I know you get that and I appreciate your work.

  5. Thanks for the sharing your words of encouragement. I can relate because my life feels like this sometimes. Working without the blueprints can build an unsafe structure so I must rely on the architect to show me the best plans to build the perfect building. God bless.

    1. Hi Yvonne. The blueprints are so important. We definitely can build using feelings or our guts. May we all be committed to daily Bible reading.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

A Gift for Jesus (A Short Poem)

Boarding and Deboarding Noah's Ark
The Ride of Your Life!
(Episode 4: Our Response of Worship)