Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Gospel and the Shower Curtain Liner

After my daughter was born, the house was a mess. It didn't help that I was so tired and bloated prior to her birth. I just wanted to put my feet up and rest after a day's work rather than attempting to clean while being very great with child. The emergency C-section and the stress of caring for a newborn were the finishing touches to the dust and grime, which were the last things on my sleep-deprived mind.

A friend, who happened to have a house cleaning business, offered to get things spick-and-span. What a gift and what a blessing! But a few days before the date, I noticed the shower curtain liner. In a word, it was gross. Now my friend was an experienced mom who could completely empathize with a new mom's exhaustion. She had cleaned plenty of houses in all sorts of condition, so I doubt she would have been repulsed. She was also my sister in Christ. But pride and fear of man do funny things. I couldn't possibly let her see that I had let it get to such a state and think who knows what about my competence as a homemaker, so I did what any self-respecting person would do. I cleaned ahead of the cleaner to save face, and I still do this but in a different context.

What will they think of me if I share this prayer request or admit that I struggle with this sin? What if I  confess that I thought this or said that? What will they think if I start crying or fumble for words when I pray or don't give the "right" answer to a question? What will they think if they find out that I don't have it all together? I had better do a little scrubbing to make sure everything looks good before I let anyone see into my life.

But what does the Gospel say?
If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliation gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha's hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.
Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?)…
I give thanks for the gospel's role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.1

Isn't this encouraging? The fact that I am a Christian and trusting in Christ alone is proof positive of my desperate state. I could never atone for my sins or attain to God's holy standard. But the Gospel declares what Christ has done on my behalf. This changes everything - not only my relationship with God but my relationships with others. So while there may still be grime on the shower curtain liner of my life, because of the Gospel…

- I don't have to clean myself up. I have been washed, sanctified, and justified. (1 Cor. 6:11)

- I have been united with brothers and sisters in a local church who are also works in progress. We are not competitors but companions and recipients of much needed forgiveness. Our unity is in Christ, so I do not have to tailor my persona to be accepted.  (Eph. 2:19)

-  My identity is not defined by the strength of my performance. Nor is it permanently marred by the scars and failures of the past.  God is renewing His image in me toward wholeness and healing. (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

- We have freedom to be honest about our sins and brokenness, which increases our love for God and for one another. (Luke 7:41-50; Eph. 4:15-16)

How does the truth of the Gospel help your relationships with other believers? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

1. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love, Milton Vincent, Focus Publishing, 2008, pp. 34-35.

Many thanks to Christie Davidson for sharing this quote at our church's women's social and leading the discussion which inspired this post.


  1. Wonderful! The truth of the Gospel helps me to realize that the salvific, redemptive work of Christ is completely cleansing and should make my life transparent. My past failures are marking stones where Christ did a work and my present ones are reminders that His still at work. It has made me enthusiastically grab Titus 2 as my marching orders and hopefully makes my relationships very practical and real.

    The thing is people know when we have tried to "clean up" beforehand. How does it glorify God for someone to think that YOU raise perfect children and keep a perfect house? The Gospel is a messy exposing of our sin and how Christ stepped in despite it all. When we are showing women around us how to live it out, it is practical in the everyday dirty trenches. How do we glorify God when the toddler is throwing a fit or when someone is being demeaning and rude? How do you minister to those who are dead in a world that wants to keep them that way? It is by remembering that only by the grace of God we are no longer there and He will continue working in us until the work is complete.

    And, when we do not glorify God in view of others, it opens the door to necessary correction and encouragement in Truth by those faithful brothers and sisters around us. If we try to live covered up and looking so clean, we just bury seeds of depravity and we all know what happens when you bury a seed. May we live, dirty shower curtains and all, exposed in the light of Christ.

  2. Wow, Persis. I've real A Gospel Primer, and enjoyed it, but this quote has now stood out to me in a whole new way. Thank you!