Wednesday, February 25, 2009
When I was little, I never struggled with the command to "love thy neighbor." My neighbors consisted of longtime family friends and numerous children close to my age. Now however, I as an adult I'm beginning to understand the difficulty behind such a command. I live next door to a special family. I say special because while I originally wrote off some of their interesting behaviors as cultural differences...I since have changed for no explanation. No explanation for the weekly activity where they hose their driveway off into ours or when they put their dog on an extend-a-leash so he can come poop in our yard. Yes, there is not explanation for this. I even took them Christmas cookies for heaven's sake! But, this is simply the background information for my latest 'lesson from the sand.'
You see, I recently joined a Bible study on Romans. In Romans 5 we see this beautiful picture of reconciliation. To reconcile means to change something, to take it as an enemy and make it a friend. As silly as this sounds, being a visual person, when I thought 'enemy' I saw the neighbors and my driveway full of bits of random trash from the latest hose down.
So, while I would like to say that I ran home and worked on that reconciliation, I mulled it over for a bit--and today, 2 weeks later, I decided to reconcile. I took a sack and filled it with the findings of my driveway. As I collected the pieces I began to think more on Romans 5. I looked at the items I'd collected, scraps of electrical wire, a broken shoe string, a soggy abandoned newspaper, a rusty safety pin and I found myself scoffing, "I don't have to do this! This isn't my mess."
And it was at that moment that I truly understood the reconciliation of Romans 5. God didn't have to reconcile with us either. He didn't force sin upon us causing our separation from him. It wasn't His mess. But, you see God doesn't wait for us to pick ourselves up, wash off and glue it all back together. Rather, He sent us Jesus. I couldn't help but feel that on some small level, God was showing me the work of Jesus Christ--that he came down to us, on our level to dig through our dirt and mess and reconcile us, trashy wreckage hardly worth more than the broken glass I was retrieving. "But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8).
I finished gathering the trash--pieces of rusty metal, a handful of remains from what looked to be a windshield, scattered toy pieces and thirteen cents. I took them inside and carefully examined the stack. I knew the lesson I'd learned needed to be captured--the reconciliation needed completion. I carefully chose a several bits of the trash, my enemy and carried it into my studio where it could become my friend.