I have a whole cupboard full of caustic and environmentally questionable cleaning products in my laundry room that I fully intended to use. I bought them because they boasted amazing results. You know, the kind where you’re supposed to be able to just look at the bottle and it will clean the bathroom for you. What can I say? I was wooed in the cleaning isle.
Well, some of them work OK, but not one has delivered the magic that was promised. More often than not, I try the fancy chemicals, get a headache from the fumes, and find the results rather disappointing. Then I grab half a lemon and some baking soda, do a little scrubbing, and enjoy far more satisfying results.
No matter how many times this happens, I’m always surprised that something so simple works so much better than all those expensive, specialty products.
You probably knew I was going to say this, but I think the Christian life can be a little like that.
We get bamboozled into thinking that some idea, discipline, or methodology is going to make all the difference in our personal growth or our effectiveness for the kingdom. Don’t get me wrong—I believe it is honoring to God when we use our minds to discover ways to be more for Him. But if we find ourselves thinking that we have finally discovered the one thing that is going to make all the difference, we’re in for a let down.
No fad book, anointed teacher, formulaic prayer, church model, interpretative method, or evangelistic system is going to launch us to the pinnacle of spirituality. Any one of those things may be very useful, but it will certainly have limited benefit. It is a mistake to put our trust there.
No matter who we are or what our background is, the basics will always work—if we really embrace and employ them. We need to grab the gospel, seek God, roll up our sleeves, and serve others. Experience and knowledge of the powerful love of God, moment by moment conversation with the Holy Spirit, and a commitment to dependent obedience form the foundation for anything of eternal value.
So the next time we’re frustrated with the fruit in our lives, perhaps we should reach for the baking soda and lemon juice, use a little elbow grease, and watch God do what He does.