Recently a dear family friend came to give us a demonstration of a multi-faceted vacuum cleaner that was said to be significantly better than the regular ones on the market. It’s her job you see and because she’s relatively new she gets to try it on her friends and family. Also because of the nature of the product it is not something that can be slapped on a leaflet or a TV advert but a personal demonstration is required – it’s about the personal touch of hearing and seeing the good news in action for yourself. Sounds familiar that, I wonder if that could work for the church?
Anyway, so this friend of ours popped over the house and gave us this demonstration of the vacuum cleaner. One element of the demonstration highlighted that the mechanic operation of a typical vacuum cleaner was only to actually suck up the dust. However it does not pick up all the dirt that is there because of its nature. The new product however works by an action of impact, vibrate and suction thus it is able to get deeper into the material to remove more dust. It so happened that our current vacuum cleaner sucked in the not good sense of the term and so to compare the effectiveness of this new product especially based on the principle of its action to the old model and its ineffectiveness was a wonder in itself.
What got me thinking was the whole thing of digging deep, exposing stuff and then removing it. Not just digging it out and letting it settle, not just dealing with the surface stuff and giving the impression of cleanliness, but the hard work of digging beyond what is seen to the point of getting to where it is, exposing it and dealing with it.
When Jesus became a part of my life that I was conscious about, I didn’t realise He worked in the same way. I’d learnt quite a bit about him at an intellectual level. I did the church routine and engaged in the emotional fervour without getting any sense of depth spiritually into the character of Christ and what that had to say about me. Thankfully that stage of naivety did not last too long.
In this month of Break Free, one of the first things to consider is that there is bondage. There is captivity. There is oppression. To some extent, we are all under negative pressure. That has an affect on our entire mentality.
For example there’s another dear friend of mine. (Sounds like I have quite a collection of dear friends, doesn’t it? No, you’ve only counted two so far, so let’s not get carried away!) This dude suffers from depression and at its worse it can virtually socially cripple the guy. In all other aspects of his life he may appear free and at his best he can come across as a rather engaging liberated individual, but the brother knows he’s in captivity to that which is over him. My prayer (and I’d love this to be yours too) is that he experiences that Break Free process. However in as much as his depression maybe dealt with, this is only the beginning.
We often get carried away with the physical/immediately apparent stuff, but there is stuff that’s deep down. There are mentalities and spiritual conditions near or at the heart of our being that plague us in worse ways than the actual physical/immediately apparent stuff. In reality the practices and solutions we’ve tried at this time have not got to the deepest level. Psychoanalysis, new age spirituality, religion, consumerism, etc. act much like my vacuum cleaner. They may appear to suck, but actually they suck – they don’t deal with the stuff beyond what we see, and left to their own devices these will accelerate a process of deterioration not just for the material around us, but even our own lives.
That is what makes the challenge of Christ convicting – we are slaves to sin at the very core of our being and the only solution is Him. Sounds cocky, doesn’t it? Sounds arrogant, I grant you. Sounds fairly exclusive as if to suggest not other route provides that level of liberty. The thing is, I’ve tended to notice that it’s not arrogant or cocky if you actually deliver what you talk about. Even more does it actually sound like a fair description of what has been demonstrated if you’re pointing it out after and as you’re doing it. The only question is whether people are willing to take Him at His Word in that desperation to Break Free.
For His Name's Sake