When I was a kid I loved going to my grandparents’ house in Northeast Arkansas for several reasons. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love to go to a place where he or she was doted upon and taught many life lessons through outdoors and apprenticeship?! I remember many details of my many trips to see them each year, but there is one detail that seems strange to me that I would remember: the taste of their tap water.
Their water was great. I grew up in North Louisiana where the water was a caramel color, and if you filled up your bathtub with it you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the tub. Comparatively, the sparkling clear water of Northeast Arkansas was amazing with just the right mixture of pure H2O and minerals.
Did you drink tap water growing up? 20 years ago that wouldn’t even be a question anyone would ask because who didn’t drink tap water? Today, however, we have an entirely different set of circumstances. When you ask people for some water chances are they’ll go to their refrigerator and look for some liquid in a plastic bottle or in a pitcher that had been filled through filtered means.
Every so often I get a report from our water treatment plant for our town. It makes me aware of the different levels of chemicals in the water. Wait…chemicals? Yes! Then it tells me that the water is ok to drink. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s ok. Our water even contains arsenic! No wonder people are buying bottled water as fast as they can produce it.
In our consumeristic culture we have changed to buying our water off the shelves in bottles or jugs or filtering it by some means even after it has come from our “water treatment” plant. We can’t seem to get “pure” water any more; we just make do with the water that we think is “more pure” or tastes better than other water.
I’ll admit that I do the same thing. I would rather drink water from a spring or well, but in town I have a Brita water filter pitcher at the house. When I buy water in a bottle I prefer Dasani. Don’t ask me why. I just think it tastes better. When I find Ethos water I buy that because some of the proceeds are supposed to be helping to dig wells in underdeveloped areas of the world.
We seem obsessed with water. And we pay for it accordingly.
Why is it that we are more concerned about the bacteria in our water than about the sin in our lives?
We don’t keep “pure” lives as the standard to which we strive. We settle for “more pure” than others. What if Jesus lived his life that way? If He had sinned even once he would not have been fit to take our place as the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice.
Then he tells us to “be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
What? I can’t be perfect! No, but I can strive for perfection. There’s the difference between what God calls us to be and what many of us have settled to become. He wants us to try and not to quit. He wants us to hate sin. He wants us to abhor it. We should loathe it, but we settle for “good enough” or “better than others”. God is not comparing you to others at your job or school. He is comparing you to Jesus. Then, if you fall short of that (which you do), he offers you the sacrifice of Jesus to cover your imperfections.
When Jesus died He took your sins on the cross and gave you righteousness – a new clothing unstained by sin. In Galatians, Paul says that the clothing we receive when we are baptized into Christ is Christ Himself. Then we go through our lives staining up that righteous clothing with the deeds of selfishness.
You wouldn’t go out in the $100 outfit you bought yesterday and play in the mud in it today. But that’s exactly how we treat our righteousness. In Romans 6 we are reminded that when we died to sin we were called to not live in it any longer.
May you hate the sin in your life more than you hate the bacteria in your water. May that new mindset this year change you into a better, more whole and more holy man or woman of God. And may your circles of influence see Jesus (your new clothing) as you live and move and function inside that clothing.
Happy new year, and if there’s anything I can do for you, call me at 979-245-1611 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you!