Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Washing the Inside of the Cup.

I don't know about you, but God frequently teaches me things in clusters. By that I mean, take subject X, and I hear about it Sunday morning at church, read about it in my Bible study through the week Wednesday morning as I rush to do it before Bible study, hear about it during Bible study, hear music about it on the radio... Well, you get the picture. I also call this "applying it with a sledge hammer" method of getting it through my thick skull. ;)

If you've read my profile, you've read my description of myself as a dichotomy. I'm a perfectionist at heart while being a procrastinator by nature. I'm the most organized slob I know. I'm a firm believer in "A place for everything, and everything in it's place", at least, that is, when I get around to it.

While it might sound humorous to read, in reality it puts me at war within myself, constantly. At night as I sit in the quiet of my sleepy home, amidst the mess of the day, I go through my mental list of all the things I need to accomplish tomorrow: Do all the Landry; do day 1 of my Bible study; clean the kitchen after breakfast; shower before the kids get up; do pre-school pages with Kevin; clean the kitchen after lunch; have dinner ready when my husband walks in the door; and ever so much more. All the things that will make me the perfect Christian Susie-Q Homemaker*.

The next morning I go over my list again, changing shower before the kids get up to shower right after breakfast, because the kids are up is the reason I'm now up. Oops. As I go through my day my list of things to do to be *S-Q-H gets modified, rearranged and scribbled out until it looks like I once again accomplished very little. But, I'm tired. Oh so tired, so I'll just veg out and try to catch up on being S-Q-H tomorrow.

I'm defeated. I have a complete lack of self-discipline.

And yet, it is so easy for my to project my S-Q-H ideals on those around me. "Now children, you may only go out side to play if you have taken care of your responsibilities, cleaned your room, finished your homework and done your Bible study" Of course, I project it onto my children, I want to shape them into better human beings, better Christians than I could ever be. I even project these ideals onto my husband. (though, I don't recommend this. It's not pretty!)

UGH, really? Yep. I'm a complete hypocrite. Don't think for a minute that I don't know it.

Here comes the sledge hammer, or for those of you who don't like to picture God as a sledge-hammer-wielding kind of guy, cluster teaching.

Last week's Bible study we were in Luke 11:37-52 (not going to post it all here, but I will talk about it)

Verses 37-41 ~ 37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [a] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

The Pharisees were experts in the law, more, they were also law makers. They studied the scriptures and interpreted the laws until they had this list of things that you had to DO to be holy. And boy howdy, if you didn't do them, you definitely weren't holy like them. And they gave the people of the time the laws, but they didn't give the people the Truth. They walked around full of self-importance and pride because they did all these things that made them clean, and yet they had no relationship with their God.

God set up the law to show us that we CAN'T make ourselves clean. If we can't make ourselves clean we MUST fall on the mercy of the living God. And THEN, he sent Jesus to die for us to cleanse us inside so that our HOLY God can once again have a relationship with us. Jesus was and is the mercy of God given to us to make us clean so that we no longer need the law, because now we can have a relationship with God.

Lord have mercy, I am still trying to live under the law. Karina's law. And I'm just like the Pharisees who made up all the rules to be holy, but weren't.

More sledge hammer coming up!(as if this post weren't long enough, I'm not actually done yet!)

So, then I went to Bible study and our teaching leader was giving the lecture about these verses and she says this, "You can't clean yourself up by changing your behavior. You must pour out your heart (what's in you) to God and let him clean you up." Kazaam! right between the eyes!

I struggle nearly daily with self-discipline. I try to modify my behavior so I look like S-Q-H. I do. I want to be her. But I can't. What I really need is to give my lack of self-discipline to God and let his love and mercy wash it from me. I don't believe I've ever done that. Oh, but I'm there now!

I can spend my time trying to wash the outside of me. I can abstain from sex outside of my marriage, I can't not drink, not smoke, not cuss and swear. I can have a perfectly clean house (maybe not with 5 kids), do my chores, exercise, eat right. I can go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir and on praise team, take sermon notes. I can guard what I read, watch and listen to. And I can tell those around me that these things are the way to live a Christian life. Do you see that all these things are good? And they are all things that God wants me to do?

But if I don't pour out the nasty stuff that's inside my heart to God and let him fill me with His love and mercy. If my behavior comes from a need to look and feel clean, but it doesn't come as a direct result of God's cleansing me and walking with me and me surrendering my insides to Him so that we can have a relationship. Then I am a Pharisee.

Did you read that part about giving to the poor? More sledge hammer learning for me...

to be continued...