Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rotting walls

There have been many times when I've awakened with an idea for a novel, a new scene, the dialogue that just didn't work the day before, things like that; but today was the first day I woke up already writing my blog. Though I'm sure it won't be the last time, I am always obedient to these thoughts that come in my pre-waking moments. I've learned that God speaks to me then--when I can't second-guess and answer back.

So, though there are a few reasons I'm hesitant to write about this (not the least of which is that I'm pointing more than one finger at myself, but there are also other reasons that I won't share in such a public forum), here goes, straight from the Holy Spirit's mouth, so to speak.
We began attending a church eleven years ago on its inaugural Sunday in a brand new building. Brand-spanking new, actually. It still had that just painted & new carpet smell in all the rooms, and though most of its members had been there all summer, there were plenty of us that week who needed maps to get through the seemingly impossible maze of rooms, all named for trees in the promised land (which I've never kept straight to tell you the truth, even after all this time!)--cedar, olive, elm, etc. Yep, brand new, new carpet, lights, walls--well, you get the picture.

Now it's eleven years later, and all the plants on the property have grown luscious and tall, the walls have been painted again (color has been added, which looks wonderful, if you ask me), and from the outside, the building looks to be in perfect condition. Oh, it's had its share of break-ins--it sits in a neighborhood where this can be expected--and a couple of bee hives, busted pipes, and birds' nests. It's a big building, after all. But all in all, it looks pretty good. If you don't look too closely.

But take a closer look with me. If you do, like the facilities committee did last year, you'd discover that the walls are falling down on the inside. You can't see it from without--paint hides a multitude of sins, after all--but mold, mildew, and the wrong kind of everything has created a hideous mess inside every wall in this huge, almost new, gorgeous building. This place where people come to worship, play, pray, talk together, be the body of Christ together. It's falling apart. And it gets to me. I mean, eleven years. There are churches around the world that have stood for hundreds, thousands of years even, with only a stone or two crumbling.

But the Holy Spirit woke me saying this: we're like this building. Or we can be. Each of us. And our corporate bodies can be like it as well. We take so much care of our external walls, our physical selves. We wash them, clothe them, cover them with paint and beauty (one way or another, men!), and the inside can still rot. It can. He can rot inside of us if we don't pay attention to Him. Isn't that sickening to think of? The Temple of the Holy Spirit is each of us, and us collectively, and we let the walls rot. How do we do this? By not devoting ourselves to Him first, of course. That's the obvious thing. Living lives that pay attention to ourselves and our needs before Him and His. Worrying about how we look to the world more than who we are in Him. His Word not hidden in our hearts. Joyless lives together, that's another. Critical spirits is another way to call that. I can think of a lot of ways our walls rot, now that I'm thinking of it. It makes me pretty sad, because, after all, it doesn't have to be this way.

At the church, it turns out, there was blame. Of course. People culpable for those walls. Now I'm not on the inside, so I don't know where all that blame lies. But I don't have to know. That's not the point. In our lives, yours and mine, our rotting walls have only ourselves to blame. It's our sin. Don't try to point the finger outside yourself. Christ is in you. Christ is in me. If I'm not glad, living a jumping for joy life, and wanting to know Him, it's about me I need to point a finger. And when I do, when I point that finger at me, and talk to God about it--that's repentance. Repentance is about turning around and walking a different way than the crooked, rotten way we've been walking. And that, that, my friends, is the very best, best thing in the world. "I'm sorry, I want to change, I want to turn around and be different. Help me. Change me, I can't do it myself." And you know why it's so great? Because He actually does. He actually wants to change us. It's what He wants more than He wants to do anything else on earth. Repentance--I love it. I really love it.

These rotting walls of ours--whatever they are--what are we going to do about them? What are you going to do?

No comments: