So, the great thing about visiting your parents' church, is that you get hugged by a whole lot of people who feel like they know you, even thought they've never met you…. 😉
It was actually so lovely to worship with this family this morning. And as with all great churches, they had plenty of room at the back to dance in the praise… 😉
The word was also great. It was looking at holiness, but with a really fresh angle. Looking at holiness as being like God.
Because God lacks nothing.
He is unbroken and complete.
We can sometimes allow areas of our lives that aren't pleasing to God, and that are uncomfortable, to be covered up and not dealt with. We all think of the obvious outward sin, but this morning we were thinking about the secret things we can harbour in our hearts. Maybe it's negativity. Or anger. Or bitterness that has taken root. Or unforgiveness. And it's been left so long that now it has depth in our lives.
And it can be covered up. Kind of. But you still know that it is there.
The preacher this morning told an analogy that I found really powerful. She had spilt candle wax on the carpet of her flat. A lot of wax. And nothing could clean it. It was a deep stain. And because it would cost too much to have the carpet professionally cleaned or replaced, she just put a beanbag over the top of it. No one could see it when the beanbag was there so no one knew. And eventually it just became accepted. It became part of the house. A stain that was usually hidden, and sometimes revealed itself, and could be left untreated because it was hidden. And if she didn't have to see the stain, then she could almost forget about it. Almost.
Like the deep parts of bitterness in our hearts that can be left to linger. And if we don't have to see the person or deal with the problem, we can almost forget it's there. Almost.
But not really.
Because whether you're using someone else as a beanbag, or you're being used as a beanbag, or the beanbag is just a beautiful distraction… The stain's still there. And that's the real deal.
We shouldn't have any parts that are hidden. Or things that we make allowances for.
There is a consequence to living like that. It leaves you uncomfortable. It leaves you unfulfilled. It robs you of peace. It steals your joy. You end up carrying rubbish and moving it with you. You are not free.
But Jesus died that we would be restored. That we would be forgiven. That we would be whole. That we wouldn't just be a 'part', but that we would be redeemed for the beautiful, the good and the excellence things.
And sometimes cleaning takes proper effort. We need to be proactive in how we do these things. To capture negative thoughts. To let go of things we need to forgive. To remember that God wants us, even with the mess of what is going on in our lives. To run to him and not away from us.
We can be filled with so much of God, that there is no room for these undealt with things so remain. We can press into so much of godliness that everything else fades away and is cleansed out.
The result of spiritual discipline is freedom.
We have to throw of the things that hinder and the sin that remains.
This isn't about rules or self-help books or a set process, it's about the all encompassing culture of God's house.
A culture where we allow mistakes and do grace and are real. Where we believe in countless second chances. Where we do not judge, but we embrace. Where our culture is true godliness. Because we do forgiveness. We do real-life-growing in the Presence of God. We do life together, through the good and the bad.
And we are honest. With ourselves. With others. With God.
It's a challenge isn't it? To move some beanbags so that every area of our lives is cleansed in His precious blood? But, it's a beautiful challenge. And one that leads to wholeness.
I've been re-reading Narnia over the last week (I will NEVER be too old for Narnia ;)), and I've actually been thinking through some of these issues as I've read… But… I'll save that blog post for another day… Aslan always deserves a whole blog post!!