I had the privilege of attending the Town Board Meeting last month. I was curious about what was going on in town, so I decided to drop in on Town Hall on a Monday Evening. I was not disappointed. I had taken my 7-year-old son with me, but he didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did.
It seems that the most pressing problems in our community has to do with eyesores, those properties that nobody cares about. According to the Town Board, these are usually properties that the owners have simply left to fend for themselves, and houses make very poor caretakers. Houses cannot mow their own grass, or keep kids from wandering around inside of them doing who-knows-what. Though the town has tried to enforce local ordinances about keeping one’s yard and property in decent condition, the owners not only have not cleaned things up, but also have yet to return to town.
Thus, we have eyesores as next-door neighbors.
What others might not know that these eyesores are problems. They create places for kids to hang out and potentially injure themselves. They are places where drugs are likely sold and exchanged. They provides homes for vermin and lost animals, and by result, cause one to hold their nose as they pass by. The real trouble is, its easy to point to these eyesores and say, “There’s the real trouble about this town.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Tearing down buildings and cleaning up properties are only taking care of symptoms. They aren’t the cure. We could tear down every building in town and level the entire town to dust, but the real problems, the real issues at stake would not have been touched.
Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”1 The real issues, he says isn’t what you see on the outside, but what’s on the inside.
Sure we’ve got houses that look rundown, smell, and are eyesores. But if we were to come to your house, and look inside, would you qualify? Would the inside of your house be free from the clutter and the odor that your outside claims to be? And even more importantly, if we were to look inside your heart, would the same stench and disgust revile our nostrils, or the same vermin inhabit your thoughts and desires?
You see, it’s easy to look at someone else’s house and say, “That’s an eyesore!” But it is very difficult to lay that same standard to our heart, and feel proud of it.
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”2 I’ve sinned. I’m sure you have too. We’ve all done something or several things that make our souls an eyesore to our Creator. That once beautiful structure called a human heart was filled with wonder at God, at the things He has made, but now is filled with hurt, with suffering, with hate and malice. We are surely an eyesore in the eyes of God.
But God wasn’t content to leave us that way. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”3 God sent His Son, one who knew how to clean up the eyesores, who came himself, lived as one of us, and shed his own blood for the eyesores of our souls, so that our eyesores would be beautiful again: not perfect, but at least presentable.
It will take some elbow grease and some hard work to clean up the eyesores in our community. But to clean up our soul is far easier. Simply embrace the Christ who has come to save us by believing that He is the Savior and Lord of our “house.” Repent of your sins and confess His name and Lordship before men. Be immersed into Christ and live for Him, and so receive His gift of His Spirit, his Presence to move in to your soul and help you live, and clean up the messes that happen along the way.
Your friends at the Church welcome you this Sunday to join us in our “house-cleaning” we do every week. A quick broom to the soul never hurt anybody. Won’t you come?
1 Matthew 23:27
2 Romans 3:23
3 John 3:16-17