I think most of us have seen a movie with a scene where a prisoner has been kept in a dungeon or locked up in solitary confinement for some time – no windows, no lights. (I took a tour of the Alcatraz solitary lock up once and you get to spend about 30 seconds inside the lightless cell – it’s pretty freaky.) At the end of their confinement the prisoner is usually dirty and disheveled. Not being able to see much in the dark, it is not surprising. Now sometimes you don’t need to see dirt to know it is on you, you can just feel it. But it’s likely you would not see all of it or the extent of your ‘unclean’ condition until you actually step out into the light again. And even at that it is not easy to see all of yourself – all those hidden nooks and crannies where dirt can hide.
The Jews in Christ’s time were very concerned about being ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ physically and spiritually. Every Passover each family was to offer a sacrifice of an unblemished lamb at the Temple – one that is pure white without any spots. (Jesus is often referred to as the unblemished Lamb of God whose sacrifice was made to pay for all of our sins.) Well, I thought of all this recently when I read the following statement:
“… Some of the greatest saints considered themselves great sinners because the closer we draw to the light of Christ, the more visible our sinfulness becomes…”
Man, is that true! Knowing Christ and the Christ-life does give us the entire context that God intended us to have, and the model to which we are called. C.S. Lewis states it this way in his great chapter on Pride, the Great Sin, “The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether…”
Thankfully, the good news is that God knows this, and although this is His expectation, He has already made provisions, through Jesus, for our falling short of this spotless model. All we need to do is to accept the fact that when we stand in the glorious light of God, we are all observed to be small dirty objects. But like every good parent, God sees through the surface grime to what He created each of us as: His very own children whom He loves regardless…thank-you God.