Last week, I was taught a great lesson!
When I arrived at church for the midweek service, I tried so hard to find a place to park my car after I had dropped the kids inside the building. I drove round for a bit and saw a few spaces that would have fit a smaller car. It was very frustrating to see others park their cars without regard for whoever else might need a space too. But I drove on and decided after all to leave my car in a very tricky spot. Over here, there’s a rule that you must not park on zigzag lines near a pedestrian crossing. You might never get a ticket from the traffic wardens but you’ll surely get one from the police. I had parked there a couple of times before whenever I was stranded, hoping no one would notice, but this time, as I got my car in the space, I felt for a brief second that I really shouldn’t, but in a hurry, I ignored the still small voice and walked away. About an hour later, a friend from church, who happened to had been my driving instructor, ran into the building and straight to me and said in my native dialect: “Your car is being towed at the moment”.
Running out of the building with my heart beating out of my chest, I got there in time to catch the police officers writing me a ticket as the towing guy attached the straps of his van to my car. The conversation that followed is one I chose not to recall, partly because the entire time I had tears pouring from my eyes like Niagara Falls, and because I would rather not talk about the very traumatising experience, at all, with anyone, anymore . . . but one bit of the conversation is what has led me to write this post. So here I am, damning my shame, and letting it out.
This is the bit:
Policeman: You were over at the church, right?
Me: . . . (trying to hide my face) . . . Yeah . . . (more tears burst from my eyes as my shame washed all over me)
Yes, that little bit of our over 30 minutes long conversation is what has made me share this, and here’s why:
Last night, as Boo of life and I sat at bible study, we talked about what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. At some point in the conversation, he began to tell me about his study of the books of Genesis and Exodus from the bible and how God somehow became silent, only to resume speaking with Moses. He went on to talk about how fascinating it was for him to read that God asked the Israelites to take a shower, wash their clothes and gather by the mountain because he wanted to have a word with them. Why would God be so particular about the state of their personal hygiene? But as we thought about it, we both came to the conclusion that God wanted them to understand that meeting with Him wasn’t something to take for granted. He wanted them to consider their physical state as a symbol of the spiritual whenever they came to meet with Him. Because that is who HE is. HOLY. RIGHTEOUS. PERFECT. So if God is all that, and we consider ourselves to be seeking after Him, then every of our actions must rally around these same attributes.
At this point of the study, I felt the same shame as the one I felt when I admitted to the policeman that I was at church while my car was parked where it shouldn’t have been. How could I have been going to meet with my Holy God to worship Him in reverence while committing an offence at the same time? How can I say I hunger and thirst for His righteousness when my actions are contrary to all that I say I am . . . and all that He is?
That was the reason I was ashamed, because I had marred the testimony of my faith.
The thing about being a Christian is not that we are perfect, but that the light and love of Christ shines through all of our actions. That we mirror His perfection as we allow His Spirit lead us to do what is right. By being an example to the watching world that JESUS is all that is GOOD and PERFECT.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:7-8
There are many people who have chosen to believe that there is no good God because those who claim to have experienced Him are living lives contrary to all that they say He is. As I think about this, I remember my very religious nation, where churches are splattered at every nook and cranny and a good number of it’s citizenry claim to be ‘Christians’, yet the very fibre of the nation’s identity is corruption. Does this mean that those who have professed to know and believe in Jesus have not allowed Him work their lives to mirror His? Have we denied the truth of His wonder working powers by allowing our selfish desires rule our minds and hearts and actions and thoughts and words and beings?
What if we all lived like Him?
What if we all loved like Him?
What if we all gave like Him?
What if we all served like Him?
What if we all were like Him?
I took this experience for me to realise that God isn’t just interested in the lifting of our hands and the raising of our voices in prayer and song, but like the Israelites and His instruction to them to come to him with clean bodies and clean clothes, God is interested in every tiny bit of our lives, and every tiny bit should reflect our worship to Him.
By driving within the speed limit. By doing the job according to specification. By paying what you owe, when it is due. By telling the truth. By rejecting that bribe. By doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before God.
That is how we wash up, and come before Him!
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)