Close your eyes and imagine with me for a moment. Think about the last time you or your spouse invited company over to the house. Depending on who the company was, I’m sure there was at least some level of cleaning that was done in preparation for the visit. Why? Why not just invite them over to see how we really live? We would be embarrassed, right? We wouldn’t want them to see us at our worst. We want to put forth the best possible image for them to see.
One of my daughters is very particular about her white shoes. When she buys a new pair, she is very careful about making sure they stay as white as possible, for as long as possible. She cleans them, and may even check the weather report before deciding whether or not to wear the new pair. It’s nice to see her care about her things that much. In today’s throwaway society, it’s a bit rare. Why does she care so much? Part of it is that she just wants to have nice things, but it’s also a statement. Those white shoes say something about her.
Some people can’t stand having a dirty car. I know men who have a 6 step process for washing the car each week. Pre-wash, wash, dry, clay bar, wax, polish, repeat. The finish on their car is like a mirror. It’s beautiful, even if you aren’t a “car guy”. Again, it makes a statement. That clean car tells the world that this person cares about the vehicle, and about what it means to have a spotless one.
Others people are particular about their lawns. I understand that I’m in the minority here, but this one I just don’t get. I know men who waste, I mean spend, entire Saturdays manicuring their lawns. The grass is perfectly cut, the sidewalks are edged, the bushes are expertly trimmed, the mulch is raked and smoothed, and there isn’t a clipping, branch or leaf to be found.
The point in all four examples is the same. The house, the shoes, the lawn and the car are all part of our image. How we look, how our house looks, how our car looks, how our yard looks reflect on us. They show that we care about our image. We care about how the world sees us.
Imagine again for me. Imagine inviting company over to your house without doing any cleaning or straightening first. Imagine asking my daughter to put on her brand new shoes and go jump in a mud puddle. What reaction do you imagine you would get? Imagine asking that neighbor who just spent three hours washing to car to go park it under a bird-infested tree. Imagine asking the guy down the street with the perfect lawn to volunteer his yard for the Boy Scout campout this weekend.
Each of these seem like ridiculous things to do. Yet we, as Christians do something very similar on a regular basis. We invite the Holy Spirit to indwell us. But we don’t clean out the dirt first. We don’t realize that inviting God’s Presence into a dirty heart is like asking someone with brand new white shoes to jump in a mud puddle. There’s an obvious difference of course. We know that God sees the dirty house. He sees the things we try so hard to hide. He gives us unlimited grace. But yet we still invite him into our hearts without worrying about cleaning them up. We invite him into sanctuaries of churches filled with sin.
If we were to put as much effort and thought into cleaning our hearts as we do cleaning our houses and our cars, the world we live in would be a better place for it. Rather than trying to sweep sin under the rug or just flat out ignore it, let’s bring it into the light. Not so it can be judged, but so that it can be forgiven and cleansed.
Then, when we invite the Holy Spirit to come, we will have prepared a proper place for Him to dwell.