Deep Cleaning

One of the most clear-cut insights that my wife and I have seen is that the majority of students we come into contact with view Christianity as a moral code with a list of rules and a set of obligations. No matter how hard they try to convince you that they don’t believe that, it is clearly evident in their conversations that they see almost everything through that lens. Most students literally think that what Jesus wants to do is put us into his behavioral modification program. And I’m happy to note that nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a point in the Bible (Matthew 23) where Jesus runs into a bunch of religious leaders who want to put an entire culture under the microscope of their “behavioral modification program”. And He says some pretty interesting stuff to them, check it out. He tells them first that they are a bunch of actors, pretending to live the way they say other people should live. He says they put heavy weights on everyone else’s shoulders while being so lazy that they don’t lift a finger themselves. He tells them that they need to become humble because they are full of pride and only pursue status for themselves. In verse 13 he actually says that they lock people out of heaven and make converts that are twice the children of hell that they are. Have you ever heard the phrase, “the blind leading the blind?” Well, Jesus coins it here. He says that they always give their money but they don’t care about justice, mercy or faith. And then he tells them that they are like beautiful tombs: lovely on the outside but full of death and filth on the inside. Ouch. See I told you it was interesting. Some of you would like to say those things to some of the church people you know.

See, one of the most common misperceptions of Jesus is that He wants us to stiffly follow some sort of moral code and adhere to some set of religious principles. But what He really wants is our heart. It simply doesn’t matter much if we don’t drink and drive or sleep around or smoke marijuana; if we haven’t invited Him into our lives as the King over it, we’re just moral people.
When I worked at a sub place in college, we had lots of checklists of stuff that needed to be done. Some of the things needed to be done daily and other things only required us to do them once a week or something. But there was one checklist I hated: the deep cleaning checklist. Seriously, just typing that almost made me throw up in my mouth. These were the things that needed to be done when the smell got so bad that you couldn’t stand it anymore. Or when there wasn’t a single employee on staff that actually worked there the last time it was done. These were the things you did when business was bad. So naturally, as the assistant manager, I was willing to practice my delegation skills when it came to the deep cleaning checklist. No one wanted to do the stuff on that list because these were things that you’d definitely want to wear gloves for. Trust me, you can find some pretty interesting things when you really clean something that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. And you can find out some interesting things about your heart if you really open it up to let God examine it. I know it’s a difficult realization to come to that no matter how much we have let God change us on the inside, He’s nowhere even close to being done. He wants us to open up our hearts and let him go to work. He wants us to get rid of all the pride that deceives us into thinking that He is already done with us. He wants hearts that desire Him and want to pursue Him. He wants you. Not the pretty outside of you, but the dirty inside that you’re afraid to let anyone see. He wants you to come before Him with a heart willing to let Him do whatever He wants to do, no matter how painful it might be. He simply doesn’t want who you pretend to be on the outside. He wants to go where you have never let anyone go before: to the center of who you are.

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