Friday, February 24, 2012

In My Best Behavior

Listen now, all of you— take this to heart
It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life
it's what you vomitthat's the real pollution. 
It's what comes out of a person that pollutes
evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness
all these are vomit from the heart. 
There is the source of your pollution.
 ~ Jesus

Who is the worst person you know?
Who is the worst person who has ever lived?

I am.

The apostle Paul recognized this when he told his young friend Timothy, "This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. "

I forget that most of the time. Most of the time, I let kinder words cover my cruel thoughts. I hold my husband's hand to hide the fantasies entertained in my heart. I do good deeds to mask my lack of love. 

But when I turn the camera lens on my inner life - the private, hidden self that runs rampant and unbridled - I confess that I am really messed up. When I open myself to the convicting work of God's Holy Spirit, I can see that I am really polluted. I'm not solving any of the world's problems - I'm adding to them. I'm so often consumed with wanting to change everyone around me, but I can't even change myself.

Western culture wants to convince us that we are essentially good but that society pollutes us. Despite the gaping holes in that logic, I need only to record about three minutes of my unspoken thoughts to recognize that I'm a dirty, murderous, tramp. Really. Without the conscience of Christ, I would wreak some serious havoc on this world.  

Referring to the serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, Jr., songwriter Sufjan Stevens wrote - 

He'd kill ten thousand people 
with a sleight of his hand...
and in my best behavior,
I am really just like him

In my BEST behavior - I am just like Hitler. Just like Kim Jon-il. Just like members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. I am capable of committing the grossest crimes against humanity. We all are.   

"There, but for the grace of God, go I." ~ John Bradford

* I recognize that these first two Lenten reflections have been pretty depressing. I hope to talk more over the coming weeks about why it is so important to start with our junk - and yet why it is so necessary not to stay focused on it!

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