In the epically stereotypical quest to save the world, the hero always learns from a master. At some point the master says to the young hero: “You have learned well, now you are ready to forge your own sword.” Then comes the montage of blacksmith work: melting, hammering, melting and hammering again until the metal is just right. “You must remove every impurity so that it has no weakness,” says the master. The refinement process is a test in patience and evidence of the hero’s progression towards a greater purpose.
For Christians, the refinement process is a metaphor for the kinds of changes God wants for disciples. There is a temptation to define Christianity solely on what we believe – on our theology, or on what we do – our praxis. But disciples of Christ also care about who and what we are – our character or identity. Being a Christian means letting God shape us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). It means undergoing a difficult process of refinement in which our impurities are slowly melted away and God molds something simple into something unique. It is a test in patience and evidence of our development as God’s creation.
Refinement is not comfortable for the metal, nor is it easy for the metal worker, but it is necessary. In the end, the hero and the metal undergo a similar process. They are each refined through hard work, commitment and patience.
Take some time this week to think about how Christ might be trying to refine you into something unique: an instrument for a greater purpose.