Max Lucado, in his book In the Grip of Grace, tells the story of a man who had been a closet slob most of his life. He just couldn’t comprehend the logic of neatness. Why make up a bed if you’re going to sleep in it again tonight? Why put the lid on the toothpaste tube if you’re going to take it off again in the morning? The man admitted to being compulsive about being messy.
Then he got married. His wife was patient. She said she didn’t mind his habits … if he didn’t mind sleeping on the couch. Because he did mind, he began to change. He said he enrolled in a 12-step program for slobs. A physical therapist helped him rediscover the muscles used for hanging up shirts and placing toilet paper on the holder. His nose was reintroduced to the smell of Pine-Sol. By the time his in-laws arrived for a visit, he was a new man.
Then came the moment of truth. His wife went out of town for a week. At first he reverted to the old man. He figured he could be a slob for six days and clean on the seventh, but something strange happened. He could no longer relax with dirty dishes in the sink, or towels flung around the bathroom, or clothes on the floor, or sheets piled up like a mountain on the bed.
What happened? Simple. He had been exposed to a higher standard of living. According to Max, that’s what Jesus does to us. I hope he is right.
Actually, I probably hope that Jesus gives us a higher standard of living in a very different way than Max does. He probably thinks falling in love with Jesus makes us live cleaner lives. I’m fine with that, but all too many Christians seem to think that faith in Jesus makes us better behaved. I don’t believe that Jesus offered much of an example of living better behaved lives. Instead, what Jesus did was turn everything around/upside down. He taught us to MISbehave in the face of injustice and repression. He taught us to turn over the tables and mess up the house if the poor are being exploited.
What would it look like today if Jesus really did change who you are?
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal