A couple of weeks ago I was off work enjoying time with my boys who were on March Break. One of the goals of the week was to get some much needed housework done. For the first time in my life I used a power washer, and the theological overtones were hard to miss.
Maybe the insight I am going to share is obvious to any Christian familiar with pressure washers but I will assume that at least some people are like me and have never used one before—such power tools were only found in the hands of boat and RV owners or the most fastidious of men, where I grew up. Here they are more common place thanks to the climate and the Sisyphean battle with moss. Personally I don’t mind moss that much but when I realized it was tearing apart a walkway that would cost a lot to have redone I borrowed a 5hp Honda pressure washer from a man in the congregation and got blasting.
My driveway has not been power washed since at least Sept 2014, it is now March 2018…so it was dirty. I began by attacking the worst parts, the most mossy, and hoped to leave it at that. Well, once I started I could see that cleaning that section was going to take a lot more work than I had thought, I would have to pass over the section over and over again (fast forward: 3 days, 3 passes, it looks better but far from perfect). As the dirt was removed the edge of the space I was cleaning seemed to miraculously move further and further out. Was the dirt expanding? Of course not, but my awareness of it, and desire to clean it up was.
The theological reading here is clear enough: as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and and we seek out sanctification and attempting to be more and more like Christ what we discover is more and more places in our lives that need washing. God, of course, knows this and has, in Jesus, washed us clean and called us righteous. Still we know the areas we need to work on, and the areas are always expanding. The level of cleanliness is always on the increase.
Here is the real rub: to get it all the way clean you would have to destroy it and start over again with a new driveway. The trouble is that it would immediately start getting dirty again. Sigh.
We are not driveways and so the analogy breaks down. Jesus Christ died for you and for me, to wash our sins away. He invites into a life of ever increasing purity but that invitation isn’t a threat or a guilt-ridden one, it is a hopeful one for as we clean or are cleaned we are not alone, we are helped by helper much more powerful than a 5hp Honda engine, the Holy Spirit himself is ready to help.