Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Of Shaving and Sin. Or, Why I Shouldn't Shave.

Look at that rugged brute in the photo above. Go ahead, look. Just drink it in. Looks like he's spent the morning chopping down trees using only his fists. This was me back in December. No shave November spilled over into the next month and I heartily embraced my Decem-beard. And for good reason. When I have no whiskers on my ugly mug I look like a fat-faced 12 year old (apologies to any fat-faced 12 year olds out there-you look fine, but I'm 34 and that makes it way less acceptable). But here's the strange thing-even though I much prefer facial hair, even though I'm a rugged brute with it and a kid whose voice still cracks without it (apologies to the boys who have voices that crack-I promise, nobody notices)-even though all these things are true I still sometimes shave. About once a year I decide, "Hey, you know what would be great? If I shaved off all my facial hair and went back to how I looked in middle school. Except with an older face and less hair on my head." And so I do it. And after the cutting is done I rinse my face off, look into the mirror and see this:

Go on, look. Let that image burn itself into your brain. Print it off and use it to keep the birds out of your garden. Post it on the bathroom mirror when you go to bed so the next morning, when your spouse stumbles into the bathroom, half asleep and still dreaming, you can scare the bejeebers out of them. Seriously, compare those two mugs. What was I thinking? The good thing is that it will in fact grow back. I'll only have to sport this look for about a week. So to those who have to deal with this for that time--my bad, guys. My bad.
Now what's the point of my self-deprecation? Glad you asked. As I watched the remnants of my face crown wash down the drain and was confronted with an older, "fuller" version of my middle school face I couldn't help but think about how often I allow sin into my life, with the exact same results.
Think about it, aren't we so stupid for continuing to chase after sins that we know won't satisfy, that we know won't fulfill, that we know are displeasing to Jesus? We know before we sin that it won't satisfy, we know while we are sinning that it won't satisfy and after the sin has been committed, in that moment of clear conviction we are confronted with the inescapable truth that what we've just done was wicked and vile in the sight of our Great King.
Proverbs 26:11 says, "Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly." Pretty disgusting image isn't it? Yet this is what it looks like when we continue to return to our sin. It's just as disgusting, just as revolting to our holy God.
Now the good news is that God doesn't accept us on the basis of what we do. We're accepted on the basis of what Jesus has done. His perfect life, His substitutionary death, and His victorious resurrection are applied to us when we repent and believe in the great exchange we call salvation. He gets all our wickedness and we get all His goodness. We are clothed in His righteousness and stand faultless before the throne. So even when I sin I'm still His child. His grace covers my sin and doesn't separate me from Him.
That's the good news of the gospel. The lesson for me is to put legs on this good news, to apply it to my life. If this is the life I was saved for, called to, recreated to live--then by God's grace may I live that life. May I learn that sin never satisfies, may God stamp eternity on my eyes and help me see that only what's done for Jesus will last. And may I find my fulfillment, my joy and satisfaction not in the passing pleasures of sin but in the one in whose presence is fullness of joy, at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore.