Someone recently commented to me about the smell of mould in the building. I don’t personally smell it, but I guess I’ve been in the building enough in the last 13 years that maybe I’m nose blind!
I had been reflecting on the activity happening around the church for the last few weeks: the new siding, the sign coming down and all the preparations for the land sale. It was in the midst of this that I heard that comment and I wondered "are we doing all this work just to invite people into a stinky building?" Thankfully our (very skilled and VERY busy) property team had already been working on getting the equipment together to clean out the dungeon, maybe they smelled it too... If you’ve never been down there, it’s the area under the outside stairs that face Scott Road. When we walked in there was carpet that had gone black, mouldy drop sheets and all kinds of stuff that someone, likely with very good intentions, had been saving for something in the future.
A few of us spent an entire morning clearing out the room and I was reminded of a story of an encounter Jesus had with the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. In the previous couple of chapters the chief priests, then the Pharisees, then the Sadducees and now again the Pharisees have been trying to trip up Jesus so they can find cause to arrest him.
Being very wise, Jesus had blown them away with all his answers up until this point, but when you get to chapter 23, you start to sense that Jesus is getting a little tired of all their confrontation and he pronounces woes on them. In verse 25 he says, 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."
I sometimes try to imagine living in Jesus’ day, and I really am afraid that I would be a Pharisee. How many of you, if you are honest, would probably admit that might be true of you as well? We all do exactly what Jesus talks about here! We curate what goes into our social media, try to look busy doing things for Jesus and carry our Bible in with us on Sundays all in an effort to ‘look the part’ of a Christian, all the while forgetting that there is an old carpet, black with mould, in our hearts that we are trying to ignore. Maybe you’ve even become nose blind to the smell of it. This is why we need each other! Do you have someone who knows you well enough to know what you struggle with?
The Pharisees in the text were full of greed and self-indulgence (which is really at the heart of most of our sin), how does that manifest for you? Maybe it’s anger and bitterness, the feeling of being ignored and alone, or maybe it’s an old hurt – something done to you – that you can’t let go of. Whatever it is, you might need someone to point it out to you because it is so much a part of you that you don’t even recognize it anymore.
We cannot do life alone. You need someone who will remind you of the good news of the Gospel for that secret place in your heart. In his death, Jesus was already punished for that thing you did (or that thing that was done to you) so that you can be forgiven and in his resurrection, Jesus offers you new, abundant life. Find someone who will speak that truth to you regularly and become the friend who will lovingly do that for others.
Just like the inside of the church building slowly catching up to the newness of the outside, don’t just try to look the part and allow the inside to go uncared for. Take some time right now to prayerfully read through Luke 6:43-45. Ask God what is in your heart and what needs to be dealt with, and then ask someone to help you deal with it today.