The Value Of A Dirty Tampon

One summer day at the early age of 19, I was in the office at my first internship.  It was just before lunch and as the preaching minister was leaving we had a short discussion on how most people view grace.

He looked at a glass of water that was on my desk which was almost empty. “Most the-glass-of-waterpeople see grace like that glass of water.  It is not completely full.  Likewise my righteousness lacks a little.  SO do as much good as I can and whatever is needed God will fill the rest.”  He then, very briefly, discussed Romans chapter 3 and a few passages in chapter 4.  “We do not do anything to fill our righteous cup, God fills it completely.  Our salvation and forgiveness is ALL grace!”

This led me to dig into the scriptures and for that lunch hour and the rest of that day I did a verse by verse break down of Romans chapter 3 and 4 and Galatians chapter 3.  It shed new light on Ephesians 2:8.  It was as if a switch had been flipped and my world changed light years in one day.

I was inspired which caused me to share this with anyone who would listen.  It was not long before I was challenged.  One misguided minister overheard me speaking of this at a church camp and he was quick to “set me straight.”

“We have to do SOMETHING to be saved!”  he said.  “Look at Noah, he would not have been saved if he did not make the ark.  He would not have been saved if he had not made the ark just like God asked.  So, yes, God was gracious to Noah but Noah had to do something to get that grace.  The same is true today, we must do things to get God’s grace.”  (a more complete explanation of this can be found in the New Birth Essay Conclusion by clicking here)

I came across this same idea in the following article from the Niceville Church of Christ.  Below is an excerpt from their web site as well as a link to that article, which was active when this post was written.

In the salvation of man’s soul there are two necessary parts: God’s part and man’s part. God’s part is the big part, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God’s part in salvation.

Though God’s part is the big part, man’s part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man’s part can clearly set forth in the following steps”  . . . Fr0m there it goes on to list the “Five Steps Of Salvation.”

( From Niceville Church of Christ web site: Link Click Here )

That summer day, while being challenged by that Church of Christ minister, I was confused.  His statement seemed to be true.  It seemed to make logical sense.  However, Ephesians 2 says that I was saved by Grace and not by any work of my own.  If I have to do something then it is a work.  I had no answer.  How could the Bible say something in one place and something different some where else.

Over the years, through Spirit’s teaching I have learned a great deal.  I have learned that my righteous act is like a dirty tampon (Is. 64:6).  That Hebrew phrase there for filthy rags is the same as used or dirty menstrual rags.  My righteousness is like a dirty tampon in God’s presence.

Pretty bad isn’t it?  There is NOTHING I can bring to God to make me righteous.  My acts of righteousness and my acts of faith are BECAUSE of God’s saving grace in me.  He changed me and also changed every saved believer (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Titus 3:4-6). He changes my heart and my actions to desire to be obedient.

To take credit for any part of salvation is nothing short of disgustingly irreverent to a Holy God.  The word picture Isaiah creates with the dirty tampon is done for a reason.  We do not have a PART in salvation.  To say otherwise is to proclaim that God owes me.

God will get all the glory for any saving work. It is His grace.  It is purely grace and it is always for His glory (Colossians 1:16).

Be Free

 

Leaving the Church of Christ Part One: My Story

For those who have been in the Church of Christ for a long time or even a lifetime, it can be difficult leaving.  For many of us the constant teaching theme In the Church of Christ is that we can’t trust the teaching of others.  To be quite fair, this should be a concern for we don’t want to go from one cult like assembly to another fellowship where someone else is twisting the Scriptures to suit their needs.

Now this is written to those who are in, what I call, the “hard core Church of Christ.”  Those are churches with the teaching that one can ONLY go to heaven if they are a member of the Church of Christ.  Some other descriptions of the hard core Church of Christ can be found HERE in this article. There are some Church of Christ assemblies that don’t teach like this.

This is the first article in a three part series on Leaving the Church of Christ.  I would like to humbly share my story.  It would be best to give a picture on what might happen to others who might also want to leave the Church of Christ.  I would also like to give practical advice and insights on what worked for me.  Some may have it worse and some maybe might not.  It would be safe to say if you have family and friends who have been in this denomination for a longtime or a lifetime, it will be difficult to keep the normalcy in your relationship, for they will now think you are hell bound.

My Story

In 1996 I had decided to leave the Church of Christ.  I was working in what most would call a NON—legalistic Church of Christ.  Now there were some members, a few, who did think we were the ONLY ones going to heaven, but most of the church did not feel this way.  It was a congregation of about 400 and the leadership was horrible for they led by compromise on every issue.

The church where I was working was full of people who did not think instrumental worship music was sinful.  Through college and into this career I also knew that it was not a sin to have instrumental music in worship.  Leaving the Church of Christ was easy for me to PERSONALLY do, however, for those close to me it was hard for them to accept.

I had been offered a job at a Christian Church nearby.  I prayed over this matter much.  I had no problem taking on the job but I did not want to hurt the relationships in my life if this was NOT where God wanted me.  So,  I asked God for a very specific sign and He provided.

The Family Reaction

First I told my parents. We sat down and had several hours of conversations over a few day period.  They were not accepting even after the conversation was complete.  I reasoned with them on the many topics they brought forth. I was well educated and prepared for this conversation and welcomed their questions with humility.  They AGREED with my on every single point until a conclusion was reached.

Even though they agreed on EVERY point they could NOT bring themselves to seeing the conclusion.  It went in circles over and again.  However, because they had heard the same messages preached and taught over and again for decades, they could not see a different conclusion EVEN THOUGH IT WAS OBVIOUS.  My parents had been taught that white was blue for decades.  They could not understand their error.

They then proceeded to call everyone who had ever been in my life that they thought MAY have had some sort of influence in my new direction.  They called old college professors, old work associates, old friends and grilled them.  They blamed radio preachers and they blamed Christian Rock.  Essentially they felt that I could not come to this on my own but rather I was weak minded and weak willed and would simply follow any and every little message that would come along.

At one point a friend called me after talking to my father on the phone.  He shared with me that my father said, “I would rather him never go to church again than go to a ‘denominational’ church.”  I forgave my father immediately.  Even though almost 20 years later the words still sting slightly I have forgiven him.

The Old Friends Reaction

Next came the letters from past elders and other family members.  My sisters accepted the change for even though they still remain in the Church of Christ denomination, they have no problem with other denominations.  They are not hard core. But my brother had great difficulty.  I received a letter from him condemning my decision and equating me to Lot of the Old Testament.  I had taken phone calls from previous elders who had condemned my decision.

Though the years my parents and I have taken a “let’s just not talk about religion” stance.  There have been a few times this has been breached but most often it is respected.  This hurts a little because theology plays such a HUGE role in my life now and to be unable to share what the Spirit is teaching is like wearing a muzzle.

Humility Helps

Because we are followers of Christ we MUST take on a Christ like attitude.  Be humble.  Not a fake humility but a true humility.  Do not boast how much knowledge you have.  Do not have actions or attitudes which make people feel inferior to you.  Be humble.

Accept the fact that you will have critics and some of them share your last name.  While Jesus was on earth, his own brother James thought he was nuts (Mark 3:21). This puts you in good company.  Pray for those who treat you with spite.  Bless those who curse, revile you and say all kinds of evil against you (Matthew 5:11).  Be patient with people who are not on a level of Bible knowledge as you.

Having MORE knowledge does not make you more righteous not does it make you closer to Jesus.  Be humble and find areas to serve.  Be prepared to be disappointed and hurt at the ignorant things family and friends will say.

This is part of my story.  I hope that you, the reader, can find some benefit in my experiences.  God bless you in your journey.

Be Free