Bird Muck, a Dirty Car and a Filthy Heart

I cleaned my last week. It had not been done for a month or so, and it was covered in dirt. By the time I had finished, it was shiny and clean. An hour later and it seemed that someone had thrown some ice cream over it. I went outside for a closer inspection, to see, with initial relief, that it was bird muck. In fact, it had eight separate deposits of bird excreta upon it. What on earth had happened? A flock of migrating geese with dickie tummies? Had the local bird trades union targeted me to protest at the quality of the food on the bird table? Are they attracted to shiny targets? Out came the cloth and bucket, and the eight poops were removed. 

Bird faeces aside, my shiny car seems to attract dirt most efficiently. The next day, the muck was so deep I could write my name in it. Thus car-cleaning is cyclical; it is a constant battle against the weather, the roads and the gifts of our feathered friends. 

The only way to keep a car clean is never to drive it, locking it inside some spotless garage with air-filters removing the dust. What would be the point of owning such a car? It was meant to be driven. My soul is like my car: it constantly attracts dirt. It keeps being washed, and it keeps getting dirty. As a Christian, my soul was bought by Christ and I was justified freely by his grace. My dirt-attracting soul cannot alter this fact at all, no more than my dirty car calls its legal ownership into question. Rather, I am talking of sanctification. This side of heaven, we have to keep scrubbing and washing, because the dirt just keeps on coming.

There are those who disagree. John Wesley taught entire sanctification whereby the redeemed soul of man can be so clean and sin-free that it is in a state of perfect love. The fallen, sinful nature of man can thus be eradicated. The Holiness Movement of the nineteenth century, of which the Keswick Convention was a part, taught a slightly diluted version of this, whereby the Christian’s sinful nature could be suspended; its presence was there, but its teeth had been pulled and its arms bound.

If Wesley is right, and there are times in my life when I feel so close to the Lord that there is no room for even a sliver of sin to come between us, it doesn’t seem to last. O wretched man that I am!

The difference between my car and my soul, is that the washing and scrubbing of the latter is not all done by me. In fact, the most effective cleansing is not done by me at all, but by the gracious Holy Spirit within me. He knows that so long as He remains there, He’ll need to keep applying His power to my heart, for it constantly invites and beckons sin into its midst. One day, my car will be scrapped, and there’ll be no more washing. I, on the other hand, will one day be made as clean as Adam before the Fall, with no further prospect of sin and dirt. Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ out Lord.