Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spiritual Hygiene

I just finished up a cleaning at the dentist's office. I must confess, I used to have horrible dental hygiene. I went for decades without stepping into a dentist's office. I'd just as soon have subjected myself to waterboarding by the CIA. I didn't floss, and I didn't aggressively brush. As you might have guessed, this created some serious problems. My dentist is the best. Instead of spending any amount of time chastising me when he first saw me, he simply set to work fixing me up. My mouth became a construction zone. He had to do a little demolition, a little rebuilding, and before everything was done, I learned what a real cleaning was like, about fillings, extractions and unfortunately dry socket. I had a nurturing dental staff and some good bouts of laughing gas to help me through the ordeal. I vowed to be diligent in my dental hygiene from that point forward.

I went out and purchased a Sonicare. I had to have the best toothbrush on the market. A Sonicare is to a toothbrush what a jackhammer is to a pick and shovel. It turns brushing into an adventure. This year I broke down and on my list of resolutions I wrote with a shakey hand, "floss daily." I won't list my other resolutions, because they've all fallen by the wayside. However, seven months into the year, I still floss daily. Good dental hygiene takes diligence and perseverance.

Often we give more dilgence and perseverance to those type of things than we do to our spiritual hygiene. Just as teeth are prone to rot and decay if exposed to an abundance of junk food or deprived of cleaning, so our spirits are as well. Tooth decay is a serious issue. However, spiritual decay is even moreso. We fill our spiritual lives with junkfood everyday by the websites we surf, the shows we watch and the music we listen to just to name a few things.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 to "be sober, be vigilant." He is saying, "Let's take this stuff seriously folks, there's alot at stake!" My dental hygienist has told me how nefarious plaque and bacteria can be on your teeth. All that stuff starts down in little pockets around your gumline, or in the crevices between your teeth. A regular, cursory brushing is not going to keep up a good line of defense. You have to brush aggressively on that gumline, pop that floss between your teeth. If you want to have good dental hygiene, you have to work at it.

If you want to have good spiritual hygiene you have to work at it. My wife and I have both had to go over things we used to watch, read and listen to closely. I am careful what I let onto my television, radio, ipod and computer. I've let my defenses down in the past and I've paid the price. It can be something as simple as a song that starts a bit of spiritual decay in my walk with Christ.

When I sat down in the dentist's chair today and the hygienist lowered that bright light to examine my teeth up close and personal, I wondered, what if Christ could put me in a chair and shed a light on the condition of my spirit? What would he see? What would he need to scrape away? What would he advise me to do to have a better spiritual life? Where have I been lax, what junk have I been letting into my life that is detrimental to my spiritual health? If my dental hygiene is important, how much moreso my spiritual hygiene?

I never want to sit in the dentist's chair and here him say, "Randy, we have a cavity we are going to have to fix today." I should even more fearfully dread hearing the Lord Jesus say to me, "Randy, we have a sin we are going to have to fix today."


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