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When Clean Isn't

When Clean Isn't

Article by Greg Pinkner
Why do showers and bathtubs need to be cleaned?

The thought obsessed me as a child. One of my early chores was to clean the showers and tub in our house. Why? It made no sense. The core collective of my understanding of cleaning involved two things: hot water and soap. These were the magic elixirs of cleanliness. How could something that had hot water and soap in it every day need cleaning? My mother seemed to be obsessive about it. Much like her nonsense stances like "no BB guns wars" and "don't jump off that cliff into the water," this seemed to be part of her ways where she didn't, or couldn't, understand the logic.

In college, I moved into my first apartment. It was then I began to truly, deeply understand the whole "clean the shower" thing. Not that I didn't before, it was just that I experienced it. The roommate had a different set of priorities than, say, cleanliness. I was convinced the shower was protected by some sort of EPA or National Park edict, like the Everglades or Death Valley. The lifeforms therein were sure to be an advancement of microbiology or provide some form of super antibiotics. The scrubbing. Oh, the scrubbing. (Side note: it became obscenely obvious other guys had not had the education in cleaning that I had.  Dear male college student or young adult- the most important part of the dating relationship you hope to develop with the girl you are seeing is when she sees your apartment for the first time, especially the bathroom. If you thought everything was going fine, she went to the bathroom, got an emergency text from a "friend," rushed out, immediately went to the store, and bought all the products with bleach.)

What do you do when what you thought was the cleanest part of the house is not really the cleanest part? You think about the presumption you had that the "should be clean" part isn't and wasn't. "What made me think that?" is the question of the day. "How did I miss that?"  "Why did I miss that?"

The Gospel asks a question of you. Resolute. Imperious. Its statement over us is that we are filthy and in need of saving. The Holy Spirit's work of showing us the truth of the charges God makes against us is shining a light on the sin of which we know we are guilty. That's the easy part. "Easy?" you ask, "I've struggled with sin 'x' for years!" Of course. It's difficult. But there may be a bigger problem.

It's the parts of you that you assumed were clean that are the hardest work.

Because you don't think you need it.

Consider Paul's words in Philippians 3:7-11. He's just come from discussing all the things that he used to think made him righteous in God's eyes. All his own "goodness," or his Judaism, "cleanliness." In Phil 3:7, he says, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." In v8, he calls all the things he clung to before a loss and calls them "rubbish."

What Paul knew, and we struggle with, is the idea that even our goodness isn't good enough for God. God demands perfection from us, and our goodness is just, well, goodness and not perfection. What if you have to repent of your goodness as well? To find everything, even your own goodness, in Christ? A closer inspection will cause us to see that sometimes, our goodness was just to make life easier. Better to be thought of as a "good guy" or "so sweet" lady. Goodness performed is on par with evil. It's not from the heart that treasures right as a reflection of God.

In Christ, our goodness is found IN Him. The good we do is counted as perfect because our hearts are being renewed. We need not force ourselves to be good but examine why our hearts resist. The places we thought were clean may hide more pride than anything else. Remember and believe the Gospel harder when confronted with the place you thought was clean but turned out much worse than you could have imagined. The Gospel came to free us from sin- all of it.

Article by Greg Pinkner

Lead Teaching Pastor
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