Yesterday marked a profound turning point in history for me and my housemates. Someone did for us something that we could never do for ourselves. Oh yes, theoretically we could have done it. There was nothing physically stopping us. But though the spirit is willing the flesh is weak, and in our sinful nature we were powerless to change ourselves. We needed someone else not of our household to take the initiative and rescue us: to make us clean. Yes, we had a cleaner visit our house yesterday.
As soon as I stepped over the threshold I could tell that something had fundamentally changed. There was a new force at work in our house that was immediately evident. It was all encompassing – it affected every area, wherever you looked you could see evidence of the transformation that had taken place. And it empowered us to change, too: there was a new joy in our hearts that meant we wanted to live in the light of what had taken place and keep things clean. Tomato sauce stains stand out a mile against a background of perfect cleanliness, just asking to be mopped up in a timely manner. The accumulation of dirt and grime over time has a peculiarly numbing effect that makes it so much easier to ignore: you grow complacent and start not even to notice the condition of your home. But when it’s all washed clean and wiped away, suddenly you have fresh eyes to see how repugnant dirt is and how out of place it is.
What’s more, we’re all profoundly aware that the whole reason this bringer of grace and restoration has visited her kindness upon us was to make our lives clean again. Not to change our behaviour in the light of her coming would be the most unbelievable insult to all her work on our behalf. What disrespect it would be not to clean up the crumbs after making my sandwiches in the morning! What cruel laziness not to wipe down the hobs after making bolognaise! It would be so incongruent for us now to continue living as we used to, as though she had never come into our lives.
If all that’s true, how much more should I be living in the light of Jesus’ coming and his death in my place! As Titus 2:11-14 says:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
The whole purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to redeem a people for his name who would live transformed lives in the power of his Spirit. And just like my cleaner (praise the Lord!) he is coming back soon!