Once I met a guy with a word picture that gave me quite a workout. He put a copper pipe in front of me and then asked, “What is this?”
I said, “It’s a copper pipe.”
And he said, “Yes, it’s a copper pipe, but what is it?”
I said, “Well, you have a faucet on the end of it and you have a red handle. I’m going to say that it’s a hot water pipe.”
“That’s right,” he said. “It’s a hot water pipe.”
Then he asked me, “Does it ever change?”
That was puzzling! I tried to figure out what could possibly be the right answer to that. I asked, “Do you mean, does it ever change from being a copper pipe?”
And he said, “Yes, that’s what I’m asking. Will it ever become something other than a copper pipe?”
And I said, “No.” And he said, “Right.” And I said, “Okay.”
But then he asked me, “If it does change, when does it change?” And I said, “You just finished telling me that it will never change!”
“Right,” he said. “It will never change from being a copper pipe. But it changes as a copper pipe. Think about it. What kind of pipe is it again?”
“It’s a hot water pipe!”
“Right,” he said. “So when I turn the hot water on, then what does it become?”
“Well,” I said, realization dawning, “it becomes a hot hot water pipe.”
And he said, “Right. So, did it change?”
And I said, “Yes. It got hot.”
“Right,” he said.
Then he said, “This copper pipe is you. You will never change. You will always lust, you will always be greedy, you will always covet, you will always gossip, you will always betray, you will always be mean, you will always have evil thoughts…” And on he went, naming all my sins.
And then he said, “If God allowed you to change, then you would stop leaning on Him. If He allowed you to become perfect like Jesus was, then you would essentially be Jesus. If that happened, there would be no reason for Him.”
I wondered at this. I understood, but I also didn’t want to be stuck on some treadmill of sin. And right then he asked me, “When did God change you?”
I considered this one carefully. The pipe gets hot when the hot water flows through it, right? So I tried to think of a similar way that I might have been changed. I said, “Well, the Bible says I’m a new creature in Christ Jesus. I’ve been born again, so obviously I’ve changed.” And he said, “Yes. But the key is that it’s in Christ that you have changed.”
“Right,” I said.
“This is the meaning of the word picture,” he said. “Christ is your hot water. You are a copper pipe, and when you turn the hot water on, you change. You become who you’re supposed to be, which is righteous before God. Your righteousness is in Christ.”
We went on to talk about this some more. This is one of the best word pictures I’ve ever been given. It might be the best. It gave me a way to really, truly understand how Jesus can change us.
And therefore, that only Jesus can judge us.
I’ll tell you more about this next time. See you Wednesday.