Summary: Sin is inevitable and needs to be identified as the filth that is in all of us, and it needs to be acknowledged in the Christian community. But God loves us and cares for us and is in the blood of Christ cleaning us.
No matter how good it is, it has to be cleaned up. Isn’t that always the case? No matter how good anything is, it has to be cleaned up. You get a new suit of clothes, you wear it a few times -- maybe only one time, in this heat -- and before you know it, it has to go off to the dry cleaners. No matter how good and beautiful it was when you got it, eventually it will have to be cleaned.
You go to the showroom, and they dazzle you with those bright, shiny chariots, enhanced by several thousand watts overhead. There is nothing quite as spectacular as a brand new car, and when you make your deal and get it out on the road, you can just feel every head turning, you just know that every eye is following you. Spectacular! But then you park it out under these big trees when you come to church, and let nature take its course, and if it is not sap dripping from the leaves, it is pollen sifting down like a sickly green blanket; and if is neither sap nor pollen, it will be those dirty birds dive-bombing you. Before long the awful truth hits you. You have to do a cleanup job. A cleanup job is inevitable. No matter how good anything is, it has to be cleaned up. The cleanup job is inevitable.
I’d go a little further. I’d insist that anything which is worth having, anything which is worth nurturing, is also worth cleaning up. If you value it, you will clean it, gladly.
We have a variety of garden plots in our back yard. Some of them are very little trouble, because they were filled twenty years ago with wild flowers imported from Kentucky, and, as you know, anything or anyone imported from Kentucky takes care of itself and is no trouble whatsoever.
But we also have some plots we use to grow vegetables. And these are quite another matter. While we were away in England one of those plots, designed for tomatoes and lettuce, instead sprouted dandelions and wild onions. It had to be cleaned up. If we hadn’t invested last Monday morning in uprooting those weeds and cleaning out that bed, our veggies would have been completely choked out. The cleanup job was inevitable; but it was worth it, it was necessary to get a worthwhile harvest.
No matter how good anything is, from time to time it has to be cleaned up. But if that thing is of any value at all, the cleanup job, inevitable as it may be, is eminently worth the effort.
Now for the past two weeks I’ve been referring to the First Letter of John as Dr. God’s Baby Book. I’ve been comparing it to all of the things we have to do with and for babies to get them going and growing on the right track. Two weeks ago I spoke about the "Elbow Test”, whereby you try to provide just the right climate or environment for spiritual health. Last week we thought together about "First Stumbling Steps" and about what it means to learn to walk with Christ.
Today our theme is "The Inevitable Cleanup Job". I don’t think you have to be Solomon to figure out in what sense babies and cleanups go together. Let me not offend anyone’s sensibilities or their sense of smell by getting too specific. But amidst all the sentimentality about babies, despite all the oohing and ahhing over little ones, one unpleasant fact remains: infants have to be cleaned up. Inevitably, unavoidably, they have to be cleaned up. At the most inopportune times, such as ten minutes after you have put them to bed and stolen off yourself for forty winks, they have to be cleaned up.
What is my premise this morning? That cleanup jobs are inevitable in every aspect of life. And that anything worth growing, anything we value, anyone who is maturing, is worth the energy and the investment of cleaning up. Who would question that’? Who would doubt that it is more than worthwhile to clean up those little guys and keep them healthy and happy?
Dr. God’s Baby Book, as expressed in the First Letter of John, makes that point and makes it forcefully. Listen to this passage and listen for the word "cleanse", and you will see how Dr. God’s Baby Book instructs us about cleanups, spiritual cleanups.
I John 1 :5-10
Dr. God’s Baby Book makes it abundantly clear that the cleanup job is, indeed, inevitable. Nothing could be more forceful, nothing could be more clear than John’ s insistence that the filth called sin is a reality.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us … if we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and his word is not in us."