Keith Wishum: From the inside out
I have a confession. In college, I kept a contraband item in my dorm room. It was an electric skillet that sustained several starving students during those long famines between dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately, the skillet was rarely cleaned.
After a particularly sumptuous feast of fried chicken (ministerial candidates are required to be able to cook it as well as eat it.), we all left for Christmas break. The skillet sat unwashed in a dark room for three weeks. No one ever identified what was growing in the pan when we returned. It looked a little like a green version of Don King’s hair.
To say the least, the moldy contents were unappetizing. Nobody wanted to eat anything from that pan. So I did the only logical thing. I put the lid back on it and polished the outside until it gleamed. I even put a Mercedes emblem on top to give it some extra class. Everyone still refused to eat with me.
I decided that my skillet needed a higher class of friends. I took it down to the dorm laundry so it could be seen with the new Maytag, but people still avoided us.
Thinking that education might make my skillet respectable, I took it to class but its reputation didn’t improve. So, I concluded that religion was our last hope, and I took my skillet to church! I even put a silver cross around its neck. But after attending church regularly for a month, the skillet was still an outcast.
You’re right. That is pretty silly (and not entirely true) – almost as silly as what we do when there is something ugly inside of us. When there is sin, guilt, and shame do we clamp the lid on and start covering it up? Do we try to hide it behind credentials and accomplishments? Do we mistakenly think that, if we look good, we must be good? Might we even turn church attendance into a façade for a polluted heart?
“Blessed are the pure in heart,” Jesus said, “For they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, he added on another occasion, “and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:26).
The good life comes from being clean inside. The only one who can wash us clean from the inside out is God. Will you allow him to do that for you?
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of God, Americus.