Spot Free Rinse
Today I washed the car. It's kind of a strange idea, washing the car, since it doesn't make it run any better and it will just be dirty again in a week. Yet, I always feel like the car is easier to drive after washing, even though rationally I know it doesn't really make any difference. There's just something about a shiny clean car, I guess. I like to go the coin-op place where you have to get out and wash the car with the high-pressure hose rather than the places where you just sit in the car and the machines wash over you. Sitting in the car without seeing whether or not it is really getting clean bothers me I suppose. I like to see the dirt coming off. There is something refreshing about that.
These do-it-yourself places have a little box with a switch where you select what comes out of the hose. There are settings for pre-soak, high-pressure soap, high-pressure rinse, tire cleaner, wax and foaming-brush. That's quite a selection and at only 25 cents a minute I think it's a pretty good deal. There is one other setting that has always fascinated me. It's the "spot free rinse" setting. I don't know what exactly they do to make it "spot free" but it does seem to work. It's a low-pressure setting and the water just kinda floats over the car and runs off in sheets. Whatever it is doing it seems to work and I like to finish up with the "spot free" rinse.
Now, you might think that since what you want is to rinse the dirt off the car and make it spot free that you could just select the "spot free rinse" setting and have at it. But, no, that won't work. That setting is just for the finishing touches. To get the car clean you either have to scrub with the foaming brush (which is really funky) or go over the car with the high-pressure soap first. If the car is really dirty and grimy, I'll even start with the pre-soak. The point is that you can't just take the short, soft, easy way of getting things clean. You need some soap and you need some pressure to get the accumulated dirt off of the car.
Something else I would like to mention is that you need to work "top down." If you try to wash the car from the bottom up, the dirt from the top runs down where you just cleaned and gets it dirty again. No, you have to go in the right direction or don't even bother. It's soap first, top down, then high-pressure rinse, top down, and then (and only then) can you switch to the soft, gentle "spot free rinse."
Got the picture?
It's the same with spiritual growth and healing. We Christians talk a lot about being "washed clean" by the blood of Jesus. This is, of course, a spiritual metaphor for the removal of sin and corruption through the sacrifice and Spirit of Christ working in us. We even talk about being "without spot or wrinkle" some times. Kinda like a "spot free rinse" in other words. It would be nice to think that it is a simple, gentle washing away of the sin and corruption. The truth is, being washed by the blood is a whole cycle of cleaning that starts with a good dunkin' and goes on to a high-pressure scrubbing before getting to the point of that gentle, soft final rinse.
A lot of so-called spiritual teachings these days are built on a very different idea. They make you think that it's all "love and light" and making life good, and happiness and prosperity, etc. I'm sure you know the drill. They sell you their brand of religion by telling you that it's all worked out by the experts, and just do what we tell you, and every thing will be much, much better for you.
The message of the Gospel has always been different from that. This message is that we are very dirty, have to get cleaned up, and it's going to take some real work, possibly some painful experiences, before things get all nice and "spot free." It's a difficult message to sell to some people because of that, but this is the honest truth about spiritual growth. We don't really realize how bad off we are until we come face-to-face with the reality of God's perfection in the person of Jesus Christ. It's called "being broken" and "humbled" for a good reason. What stands between man and God is man's arrogant, self-centered, rebelliousness. Until that is washed away, there can be no real spiritual cleansing and renewal.
Also, remember that it has to be "top-down" not "bottom up." That means that, first of all, God does the cleaning. Just as important, it is the internal spiritual condition that has to be dealt with first. So often, man thinks he knows what is wrong, and prays for God to fix things, only to find out there is a much deeper wound or corruption in the spirit that has to be dealt with. It's like someone who only wants the symptoms of the disease cleaned up but doesn't want the root source to be dealt with. God is going to go to work on the real cause of our sin, not just the outward appearance of sin. That is something that very few understand. We want God to fix what we perceive as the problem not even realizing that He is going to REALLY fix things. Like trying to wash the car bottom-up, if you don't remove the nature of the sin, you just get dirty again and again and again.
That final clean, spot-free, shiny appearance that we would equate with the spiritually righteous man only comes after a long process of high-pressure spiritual soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing. Better get used to it. Even more, be thankful that God loves you enough to go to all that trouble, even when you don't quite understand what is going on or how these trials and tribulations will make things run smoother in the end.
Unlike washing the car, a spiritual "spot free rinse" is going to make a big, big difference in your life.