Why You’re Tired of Self-Preservation

The Curse to Maintain

While moving into a new home can be a joy-filled experience, it can also be one of great stress. Since moving into our new place just under two months ago, I’ve noticed something about myself.

I notice everything.

I notice when the feel of the carpet changes. I notice when finger prints get on the fridge. I notice if the grout in our bathroom changes the slightest color. I notice marks on the wall that weren’t there before. Living within this keen sense of awareness, I’ve noticed something else. And it’s not about any part of the house.

It’s about me.

My sense of awareness and fight for home preservation is utterly exhausting.

I’ve learned that the purpose of a home is to live in it, not to keep it from looking like it’s been lived in. These are two very different concepts. Two very different approaches to appreciating and caring for the gracious blessing of a home. Yet, in all of this tireless protection from stains and dints and imperfections, I’ve come to realize that what we do in protecting our material possessions is the same thing we do with ourselves.

We fight for self-preservation. We want to keep our appearance looking put-together, spotless, and use-free. Any sign of the smallest imperfection we drop everything to either fix the issue or conceal it. We maintain. And maintaining becomes a great burden we were never meant to carry.

The bedrock of Christianity is not the moral perfection of Christians, but the moral perfection of Christ.

The Failure of Our Efforts

A friend of ours found themselves in a similar situation involving the wear-and-tear of their home. Their domestic foe? An inconspicuous stain on the countertops. Right by the oven. For days our friend tried every method possible to remove the now very evident spot. Baking soda. Acetone. Soap and water. Granite cleaner. But to no avail, the stain remained.

After all the effort and the worry, there it was. Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the end of the story. In a moment, through a shift in light, the stain vanished. After all the research and the energy and the scrubbing, what she realized was that what she believed to be a stain was only a mere shadow, cast down onto the counter. All that effort to clean and maintain and care for the countertop when all along there was nothing to clean.

Then it struck me.

That’s exactly what we do, living under the weight and the glory of Christ’s forgiveness. We are all dirty. God’s Word is clear about that. There is no one righteous, no one good enough. Despite what the television tells you or what news report you’re reading or the anthem of culture you’re following, no one has any place to boast in their moral accomplishments or their righteous standing.

Some Christians boast in their moral purity and pristine character when compared to those “outside the church.” This isn’t the message of the gospel. The bedrock of Christianity isn’t the moral perfection of Christians. The bedrock of Christianity is the moral perfection of Christ. Without Christ, we are all outsiders.

The message of Christianity isn’t one of arrogance that believes some people are bad and others are good. The message of Christianity is one of humility that says no one is good except One. No one has what it takes to be in right standing before a holy God.

That is the beauty of Jesus.

He traded places with us. He died instead of us. So that in believing he is the Savior, the Rescuer, the Redeemer, we come to him full of shame, stains, dirt, and walk away 100% spotless, clean, and pure.

The Joy of Being Clean

Scrubbing a stain that isn’t there is a lot like what we do with our own sin. We don’t trust that Christ has done what is needed to cleanse us and take away our shame and our guilt. It’s too good to be true, right? But that is the hope of Scripture. The Son of God came down to live among humanity to be murdered and buried all for the people who rebuke and ridicule him and discount him. All so that the ones who come to Christ and say, “Yes, I can’t do this on my own. I need you. I need saving. I need rescuing. I need what only you can give,” can be welcomed into the eternal family of God.

For those in Christ, the only past God is concerned with is Jesus’ death and resurrection.

That’s the hope of Christians.

We have hope because Christ, the King, did not stay dead. And because of that, the spotless Lamb came to take our spots upon himself. So when we come to him and he wipes our sin away, the stain is gone. Every single one. When God looks at us he sees beauty. He sees purity,  He sees the marvelous splendor of Jesus. If you’re in Christ, take hope that he doesn’t see your sexual past. He doesn’t see your failures. He doesn’t see your use of language. He doesn’t see your inconsistencies. He doesn’t see your addiction. He doesn’t see your jail time.

When you come to Jesus and find personal healing and hope in his life, death, and resurrection, what God sees when he looks at you and your past and your future is not your imperfections, but the beautiful perfection of his Son hanging on a cross.

But we worry.

We doubt.

We keep scrubbing away, trying everything we can, forgetting that once in Christ he’s already taken it away. Friends, we waste our energy trying to clean up junk that’s already been clean. Christ has sealed us once and for all when we come to him in humility, confessing our need for him to cleanse us. We can’t do it on our own strength. Without Jesus, we’ll be scrubbing day after day, year after year, stain after stain, making no progress at all.

There’s freedom when we put down the acetone and stop scrubbing and hand our rag over to Christ.

Once we do, there’s no need to scrub anymore.

Any effort after that is simply trying to remove a stain that isn’t there.

It’s been taken care of.

 

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the Director of Curriculum for Docent Research Group. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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