Monday, December 11, 2017

Residue

We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again[a] when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:3-7 TLB)
Have you ever tried to take something that went "bad" and make it good again? I have scorched food in the pan - making somewhat of a "burnt offering" of the dish - and tried to scrape out the parts that were "salvageable" only to discover they tasted pretty bad. I have also tried to cut out the soft portions of an orange that had begun to turn moldy on the outside, only to discover that sourness and bitterness of decay had permeated all the sweetness of the rest of the orange. It is harder than we might think to "salvage" or "make good" what has been affected so long by something that made good become quite bad. The whole becomes affected by the part that became bad. In both cases, the best I could do was declare them "not good" and throw them in the trash and start over and with all new ingredients that I could produce something good. It is only through "substitution" that we can experience the "not good" parts of our lives being "made good" again. 
The good news is that we don't have to be "thrown out" in order for God to do what only he can do - he is able to extract the "badness" in such a way that only goodness remains! God does more than "salvage" the good, though. He actually is able to ensure the parts of us that are affected by what has "gone bad" aren't affected by that bitterness and sourness of sin's effect in us. He is the only one able to do this, so any measure of "self-help" we might attempt in order to accomplish the same degree of "healing" is simply going to remove something bad, but allow the "after-taste" of the bad to remain! 
"Salvage work" is best done by the one who knows how to do it perfectly! If I went out on a ship that had located a long lost sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean's floor, I wouldn't even begin to know the precautions I'd need to take in order to preserve the items which could be brought to the surface as "found treasure". I'd have to look to the experts to do that, or else the items would be lost to the exposure to the air and elements such as the oil from my own skin. The ability to "salvage" would be impeded by my ineptness. So, why do we insist upon "salvaging" our own lives - isn't there a degree of "ineptness" that makes this kind of hard for us to do? After all, wasn't it us that got us to the place a "salvage mission" was necessary anyway?
I don't know about you, but when tell-tale signs of sin are left around in my life by my own "self-help" methods, those signs begin to show through again. It is like that stain on my living room floor. I don't know what made that stain, but try as I might, I get it to go away for some period of time and there it is back again. It is like dirt is attracted to that very spot and nowhere else! Maybe that is it how it is in our lives when it comes to sin - there seems to be enough of a residue of it that remains when we are the ones trying to "scrub it out" and in time it just attracts the dirt again! Just sayin!