Summertime: A Metaphor for the Christian Life
There are some unique natural phenomena that take place during the summer months. Some are much-loved, others not so much. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated phenomenon—especially for young children—is the lengthening of days. The extra light allows children to play for hours outside and, under normal circumstances, encourages all sorts of outdoor gatherings, cookouts, and long days at the pool. For many, the extra light of summer is a favorite feature of the season.
Of course, there are other phenomena which are less appealing. The heat, for one thing, and Houstonians are no strangers to this. In Harper Lee’s book
To Kill a Mockingbird
, she describes the relentless nature of summer heat in a way that would resonate with most Houstonians. “
Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon and after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall we’re like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer.”
Summertime brings both delight and challenge. Yet this is not just true of summer, but of the Christian life as well. One the one hand, Christ offers us forgiveness of our sins and newness of life. He turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh and enables us to experience joy, peace and hope. On the other hand—to borrow from the title of Cornelius Plantinga’s wonderful book—life is “
Not the Way It's Supposed to Be
While Christ has freed us from sin (Romans 6:11, 12), the presence of sin remains a reality with which we must contend.
The ongoing process of sanctification (that is, our spiritual growth) necessitates that we “put to death” or “mortify” (KJV) the sin in our life (Colossians 3:5). The good news is that Jesus is with us every step of the way in our ongoing journey of spiritual growth. He has given us the Holy Spirit to help refine us. And, He has given us the means of grace through the avenues of worship, prayer, the sacraments and community.
Circling back to the metaphor of summer, we might think of our ability to enjoy the fullness of summer through the lens of the Christian life. Christ shields us from the sun’s heat, refreshes us with a cool beverage, places us in a community to share our experience and, most importantly, offers us hope that cooler days are just around the corner.