Yesterday we walked through, for a second time, yet another potential place for us to live in this era of our wanderings. It’s a house two doors down from our intended future permanent home, but potentially available for habitation much more quickly and for less expense. The first thing that strikes any visitor to this house is the knock-you-over stench of an abandoned home whose last tenants had most likely been evicted. New to the interior decorating this time were the belonging of someone who had made it his (?) home by use of the back window. There were the normal things like tooth brush, toothpaste and shaving accessories. There was also a metal T looking thing which I learned is the way to turn the water on from the street. The squatter has a good system. But what particularly caught my eye this time were the tiny little girl shoes and bathing suits and empty Gerber toddler food container.
As I kept exploring not the house, but the contents left behind by this “resident” in our potential “new” home, I then discovered porn DVDs in the closet. Gross? Yes. Creatively named? Points for that at least. Of course my first thoughts were of disgust over the whole situation, but seeing the porn somehow as an indication of why the person was where he was: No self control, following his appetites, unclean and exploiting the resources of others…and possibly bringing a small child along in the process. Then, Jesus gently and ever so patiently showed me the Pharisee in the mirror.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Phil. 2:5-8
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Eph. 2:14-17
What must the broken world, now afflicted with death and disease and conflict, smell like to someone arriving from His throne in Glory? I’m guessing the stench of that house yesterday can’t compete with what Jesus smelled in contrast. He left the safety, comfort, peace and order of His Heavenly realm to move to “the ghetto” of the world He created to enter into the lives of His people who He loves. He suffered so that I can live, not just once on the cross so I can enter once into His presence after death, but daily in life so that I can enter His presence each moment of each day.
I am the person living in that house, chasing my own appetites even when I as a believer know that they will never satisfy. I exploit the attention and resources of others for my comfort, my ego and my own well-bring above any genuine, enduring concern for theirs. Like the squatter with the T bar, I use the gifts of intelligence, creativity and even determination not to image God to others and bring life and joy and peace to the world around me, but to better my own little kingdom. All the while, my “little kingdom” is no more glorious than the temporary quarters of someone else’s house which I will eventually have to leave.
But the greatest difference between me as the squatter and Jesus as the purchaser of the home is that He does not despise me in my filth, my exploitations, my lusts and the varying forms of my irresponsibility.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Is. 53:3
Jesus became the despised so that I may be the Beloved. Jesus bore the rejection of men, well deserved by me and the other guy whose stuff I paroused yesterday, so that we may become the Accepted. I covered my nose and used great amounts of hand sanitizer in response to that house and its inhabitants. Jesus takes on my stink, my infectious disease, and my detestable sin nature that I may be clothed in His glorious spledor and irresistable fragrance of life. If I were to even minimally grasp who I really am apart from Him and what He unreasonably does for me daily, how differently might I respond to others in my same need of His mercies and marvelous love? ”Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” John Newton