Keith Wishum: Spray it on
In perhaps the ultimate marketing coup, Colin Dowse, a businessman in Shropshire, England, found a way to sell mud. Yes, mud. And, at $14.50 per quart, it’s not dirt-cheap. Of course, it’s not ordinary mud. This mud comes in a plastic squirt bottle, so you can spray it. And, though it’s real dirt, it has been strained to remove stones and debris. The clean dirt (is that possible?) is then mixed with water and a secret ingredient to make it stick. Not one to get bogged down in search of a clever name, Dowse simply called his product Sprayonmud. For a while, he enjoyed brisk sales worldwide.
Why would anyone buy mud? Sprayonmud was intended for SUV owners who want that rugged off-road look without risking damage to their expensive vehicles. They get to look as if they’ve been boggin’ in the outback without ever scratching their paint or denting a fender.
Sounds much like what we tend to do in religion, too. Some insist on attempting the real thing and try to splash on real righteousness. They veer off into the unpaved regions of religion trying to do enough — to be good enough — to be covered in righteousness. But it doesn’t quite work. They always miss a spot or two, and they get banged up in the process.
Others go for artificial, homemade righteousness. They pretend to be better than they are. They pose. But, that won’t work for obvious reasons. It’s fake and God isn’t fooled. Jesus criticized an entire class of religious leaders for being “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27).
The good news is that God offers his own version of Sprayongoodness. It’s called grace. We don’t have to crash through the underbrush to get it. And we don’t have to fake it to try to fool anybody. He freely offers to us, if we trust him enough to accept it — a full coat of applied righteousness. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
Abraham had it. He “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (4:3).
You can have it, too. The supply is unlimited. It’s offered free of charge, paid for already by Jesus Christ.
Sprayongoodness — I hope there is a huge market for that.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.