Taking Out the Trash


Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:21)

It’s easy to get mucked up. There you go, minding your own religious business, thinking you’re doing pretty well, enjoying the unmerited favor of God, and dipping your hand into the cultural flotsam that floats by your boat. You check out a few movies, watch that totally hilarious television series, entertain the errant thought for a bit longer than you’d admit, pronounce a political curse here and there, ignore the speed limit. It’s all a part of living in the American culture.

In fact, you tend to look down your nose on religious prudes with their Amish-like, totally unappealing holiness neurosis. Anybody with the pinched nerve to suggest that you’re swimming in a cesspool is quickly dismissed as a grace-challenged spiritual Cretin. You, on the other hand, are culturally savvy. You know how to enjoy the artifacts of a lost world without getting soul stained. All those sexual innuendos and jokes, that soft porn, those crassly blasphemous dialogues, the assumption of adultery as normative, the celebration of violence and greed—none of that affects you. You know how to be titillated and be without sin. You know how to cheer for the hero without compromising your spiritual integrity. Unlike the religiously constipated whom you disdain, you are free.  You are enlightened.

You are also Biblically illiterate.

The Bible says point-blank and over and over and over that you are in the middle of a garbage dump. You are surrounded by products of rebellion and sin. You have immorality beamed at you 24/7 from every possible angle. The landscape beckoning so sweetly to you is already burning. The beautiful people who enact your desires, who placate your conscience, who balm your divided heart—they are putrefying where they stand. There is no safe play area out there, no neutral ground. Anything and everything that does not subscribe to the lordship of Christ is feces.

And you love to spread it on like Oil of Olay.

James ain’t nobody’s fool. He knows that there is a difference between “the word” and all the rest. He knows that light has no fellowship with darkness. He knows that bad company corrupts good character and not the other way around. He knows that real religion actually looks like something, and it’s not like the world. He wants you to jettison everything that isn’t God. He wants you to empty the trash which is stinking up your mind and soul. He wants you to get humble for a change and accept that you simply cannot play with the damned and the crap and come back unscathed. He wants you, yes, you to clean up your act. You want to connect; James wants you to detach.

To hell with James.


2 Responses

  1. “To hell with James,” is right. Jesus knew better. Jesus played with the sinners. Jesus said being loving to the sinners was a whole lot more powerful than being standoffish. If the light can’t stand being close to the darkness, it’s not very strong. John said the Light shone forth in the Darkness and the Darkness did not overcome it.

    The world is a sacrament and not to be scorned, but to be transformed. The only people who can do that are the truly godly. If you separate yourself from all that you judge is not pure enough for you, in the end, you are left with nothing. Not even your soul.

  2. Preach it brother Fred! So, of course, we’re left with trying to learn and live the balance of being IN the world but not OF the world. Loving the people but not spreading feces on ourselves like Oil of Olay, as you so eloquently put it.

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