If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn’t in our hearts. 1 John 1:6-8 (CEV)
This weekend, my husband and I worked together to do some much-needed spring cleaning. I tackled the upstairs while he worked on our boys’ basement lair. It’s amazing what a solid hour and a half of picking up, sorting, organizing and sweeping can do! If you know me at all, you know that cleaning is not one of my fortes. I joke that it’s not a “spiritual gift” I was given. That said, I do really enjoy vacuuming.
We got a new vacuum cleaner last year, a Shark DuoClean upright vacuum, and this baby does it all. It’s lightweight, works on both carpet and hardwood/linoleum, tackles pet hair and children, has bright LED lights on the front so you can see into dark corners, is flat enough to sneak under furniture, and easily detaches from the base so you can vacuum anything, anywhere. As my boys like to quip, the Shark vacuum really “sucks”.
I think the think I love most above vacuuming is that you see an immediate difference, especially when you have light carpets. What was dingy and flat moments before is suddenly bright and full-bodied once again. As I vacuumed this weekend, I started thinking about the fact that sometimes we need to do some spring cleaning in our souls. Like our carpets, our souls can gather dust and dirt that corrodes our spirit and draws us away from God. We hold onto things like anger, bitterness, disappointment, and despair. We focus on the acquisition and consumption of material things, building a desire for bigger, better, and more that turns our attention from the work God calls us to. We embed fears and anxieties, always nervously looking to the potential “what ifs” rather than the present “what is”. We also sprinkle onto our souls our own negative self-talk; those internal voices that scream we’re not good enough, pretty enough, popular enough, smart enough, skinny enough, kind enough, etc.
This is not the way God designed our souls to be. God doesn’t want us to live with souls that are dingy and flat with the weight of all the world’s negativity. Rather, God wants to infuse our souls with his light. God wants to use his grace and love to restore our souls to the bright and full-bodied condition they were in when he formed us. But to do that, we’ve got to do some spring cleaning ourselves. Note what John says in the Scripture above: If we live in the light, we share in life with each other. There’s a two-fold process here. First, we live in the light. This means that we follow God’s law, as revealed to us through Jesus Christ. We practice love, we worship God, we stand up for those who are oppressed, we speak in truth and kindness, we practice humility, we forgive. John says that if we do these things, then we share in life with each other. The Christian journey is not a solitary experience. God wants us to share it with others. But, to have that experience of a shared faith, we need to practice our faith. The Message puts it this way:
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.
God has already redeemed us from our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross washed our souls, and his resurrection from the grave gave us new life. But, we have to choose to walk the path of light and life instead of continuing to stumble around in the dark.
This week, I challenge you to spend some time engaged in soul cleaning. Identify those things you’re holding onto that keep you from fully living in the light of God’s love and grace. Then, ask God to help you remove them from your life, so that you can experience spiritual renewal this Eastertide.
Blessings and Peace,