We finally did a long-awaited alteration at home - knocking down a braai area and rebuilding the garden wall closer to our driveway to maximise the lawn space that our kids could play on. The new wall is only ten meters long… but it finishes off the area nicely and is beautifully plastered and painted.
Well, it was, for a few days. It cracked a bit, and so the builders re-plastered it and painted it again. It ‘settled’ a bit more, and so, a week later, they needed to do it again. It’s now a year later, and the wall is permanently cracked, the paint is peeling off badly, and we just can’t keep up. The wall is clearly built on a sinking foundation. It’s never going to last.
What about you? How many times do you plaster and paint over the cracks before admitting you may have built on an unsure foundation?
The question of the series is, How do we stay alive and fresh in a dead and dying world? And more specifically in the next few weeks, What is killing you?
Is It Eternal Things?
The bible says that it wasn’t that long ago that we (who are now ‘reborn’) walked around like corpses, dead in our sins and offenses. The corruption that identified us with the things of this dying world was expressed through the selfish deeds and desires that we displayed - doing pretty much whatever we wanted, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
And I wonder if you ever sit on a bench and watch the crowds of self-serving corpses passing you by and question if you, too, are one of them? Do you live to devour and feed your desires; are you driven by material needs? Do you question? Or has the plaster and paint become so a part of who you see in the mirror, that you have forgotten to wonder why the cracks show through so often? What is the foundation of your life? Is it built on the things of this material world?
Because life is not made or manufactured or summoned up, life is born and it can only be born from One who has it. He gives it freely to all who come to him. And I come to him! Dead to the old way of life, I am reborn through the waters of baptism. Born life does not crack, it grows and stretches to fit. And yet…
My boys sometimes come inside on rubbish-collection day smelling like the dead and dying, reeking of the decaying trash they’ve just carried outside the gate, and I send them straight to the sink to scrub up. And sometimes when there is a lack of freshness in my own life, I sniff around and realise that the old things that I was meant to wash off in the free waters of grace are lingering… I’ve been handling the sins and offenses and the stale smell of selfish ways is masking the freshness that is mine. It’s time to scrub up.
Eternal things can kill us if we follow the patterns of this world.
But Jesus has the answer: “Unless you allow me to wash your feet, you will not be able to share in my life.”
And with Peter we cry, “Wash not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
But those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; we have already been washed completely and need only our feet to be cleansed, Jesus assures us.
And the mystery of grace is not only in new birth and sure foundations, but in the continued sustaining of our lives. We were born at once - in a moment - but we are kept alive ongoingly by his touch.
Are you lacking freshness? Stuck in a rut? Following the patterns of this world? Let him wash your feet. The King of kings would serve you… will you humble yourself, and accept?