That spot your washcloth doesn’t reach
I walked into church this morning with a thought pressing heavily upon my heart. I knew it wasn’t my thought, as in it did not originate with me. What I didn’t know was if it originated for me.
It can be difficult to discern the difference sometimes, and the world has had enough of folks trying to force their personal lessons from Holy Spirit upon others. It’s a fast track to transforming legitimate relationship into oppressive religion, and I don’t want to do that. Ever. I prefer to avoid erring, but in this matter, should I err may it be on the side of caution.
And so I listened quietly to see if the thought that was pressing on me was part of the flow of what was happening around me. I’ve found that when I’m paying attention, I will often hear the door open, the whispered invitation. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I wait, and it slips by, and I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
Today was one of those days.
But the thought was restless. It didn’t just go curl up in a corner to take a nap, and it didn’t just pat my hand and say that I really needed a reminder.
No…it has banged around like a moth caught in a jar. It’s rumbled between my ears, knocked on my heart, reached around my back and tapped me on my opposite shoulder just to make me look.
So I’m going to plant it here and see if it finds a home.
I was thinking how the Bride of Christ will be complete, pure, and spotless before that great wedding day occurs.
Pure and spotless. This is an amazing thought because right now the Bride, the Church, appears to be in a constant battle with double-mindedness and defilement.
But then I heard a quiet Voice.
The Bride keeps trying to purify herself. She cannot do so. Her purity does not come from her own righteous behavior flowing toward Me, but from My righteousness flowing towards her. The closer she steps to Me, the more her purity will shine as the overflow of her life. It will no longer be about what she does or does not do, but by the transformed nature of who she is. The purified Bride forsakes judgment and self-righteousness, and instead loves.
I began to think of the things that I’ve been told are unrighteous at some point in my life.
Like…playing cards, watching R-rated movies, consuming alcohol or smoking cigarettes, wearing shorts/tank tops/bikinis, listening to secular music, tattoos, long hair/earrings on men, dancing, real non-side hugs, any sort of “chance” game including raffles and lottery tickets, going to Disney world, having non-Christian friends, dyeing your hair, wearing makeup…
Sadly enough, I suspect I could keep going for a long while. And it’s not that I subscribe to them anymore (I don’t), but some of them I did at some point in my life. I believed it when I was told that is what it meant to be pure. You begin subscribing to the don’ts, and the more don’ts you don’t, the more rules you follow, the more righteous you are.
I now look back on that and wonder how those teachings meshed with the Apostle Paul’s list of braggables in Philippians 3. But somehow they did, at least sorta, and it made sense at the time.
I see it so differently now.
The truth is, I can take a shower, spit and shine, grit my teeth and behave perfectly and still be as impure and unrighteous as a dog turd in the middle of the sidewalk.
Same with you.
We’ve got nothing to bring to the table on our own, you and I. Our “righteousness” is vile. Our impurity is a wasting disease that eats our bones. There isn’t enough perfume to cover up our stink, and there is no act of goodness we can perform that makes us any less putrid.
We’re helpless to change this about ourselves. We can’t even give ourselves a nice little spit bath with the corner of our hankies.
This is a mystery. I can’t explain how it works; my mind is too small for such things. All I know is that when our old death nature is covered by the blood of the Jesus, we become alive in a whole new way. We become His righteousness. He refines us and brings us out as pure gold, shining in heavenly brilliance. We are His fragrance, and He empowers us to bring His goodness to the world.
He changes the very essence of who we are. Jesus purifies His own Bride.
My heart aches to see people caught up in the hamster wheel of sin management. Maybe you know what I’m referring to: try and try and try and try and try and yet nothing changes…the same old battles plague. Guilt and shame roar in like a flood, and instead of running to the One who can really change you, you step a little further away, brace your heart against Him because you’re quite sure you’re a disappointment, and you wait until you feel life you’ve got your act together before hopping on the hamster wheel again…only to get the same results.
Sin management is just an effective way to sell books. I strongly suggest you consider a permanent fast from the hamster wheel.
There is only one real solution. There is only one true hope.
Step closer to Him.
Get radical about getting in His space. Do what He does, say what He says. When you mess up, get up and step even closer to Him, no matter what sort of hissing you hear in your ear. Be relentless. He can handle it if you keep getting so close you step on the backs of His heels when you’re walking.
Let Him brush you off and clean you up. He’s an expert at it.
And He plans to make you dazzle.