The Ultimate Extreme Makeover

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I remain convinced that no one repairs or transforms with more style than Red Green. Attempting to stay with the times, however, I recently sat through a few episodes of “Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition” and Amy Grant’s “Three Wishes.”

Though televised tears don’t amuse me, I’ll admit I found the gifts given and the reactions of the recipients somewhat moving.

Ty Pennington and Amy Grant add a whole new meaning to the term “cheerful giver.” They bestow with reckless abandon—to the extreme. Without condescending, they feel the pain of the marginalized, the victimized, and the traumatized. Then they give. And give! The dreams Ty builds and the wishes Amy grants are immeasurably beyond what most could ask or imagine.

I won’t knock two shows that provide a breath of fresh air amid the pollution that constantly filters through the screen. But what kind of giving does Christ call us to do? And what extreme gifts does he have in mind for us?

In the Bible extreme giving is a sacrifice. Christ points out that the poor widow who dropped two small coins into the offering plate gave away tons more than the wealthy who poured their money in by the bagful.

Giving is to be done in secret as well. How can the left hand not know what the right hand is doing if the right hand is holding a megaphone? Of course, we couldn’t benefit from Ty’s and Amy’s examples of generosity if they didn’t have TV cameras pointed at them. Our own charity, though, doesn’t earn much credit with God if we give only when others are noticing.

Today’s extreme givers are but dim reflections of the ultimate Giver, God himself. The tent God visited in Exodus was not a wish tent but a worship tent. There he often reminded his people that his presence is more valuable than any thing they wished for. The blood spilled on the altar at that tent foreshadowed the blood that God’s own Son would shed. The cost of God’s Gift would be that great.

One author has called Ty Pennington, who began life as a carpenter and now performs miracles on houses, a “modernday messiah.” The transformation Christ brings about, however, starts even deeper than the foundations. He’s after a new heart and a new life.

His work pace is slower as well. Although sometimes permanent alterations happen suddenly, at a spiritual retreat or a youth convention, quite often the restoration process moves along more gradually because the problems are so deeply ingrained. Most of us are projects that will take a lifetime to complete. I’m glad God’s patience is that extreme!

About the Author

Al Bandstra teaches sixth grade at Sioux Center Christian School. He is the author of Beyond Control: Heart-Centered Classroom Climate and Discipline. He and his family attend Faith Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa.

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