Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Denominational Dirt

We all have sacred dirt. That little part of us that gives way to traditionalism and turf struggles. Remember the story of Naaman? I love that story. The leprous captain of the Syrian Army dunking himself seven times in the Jordan River and coming up clean has such symbolism. Naaman did not want to wash in the Jordan, because it was a dirty river. The leprosy represents what sin does to a person. The leprosy was on the outside, visually wreaking havoc, the sin is on the inside, invisibly wreaking havoc. And of course, the waters wash away his disease, even as the love of Christ washes away our sins. As I said, a great story. Such great sermon fodder!

Nevertheless, it is the aftermath that I love the most. The baby smooth and sparkly skinned Naaman, fresh in his conversion experience to the God of Israel, decides to take some dirt home with him. This is so he can worship on “pure dirt.” What exactly is pure dirt? Is it clean dirt? And if it is, what makes dirty dirt dirty?
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman asks Elijah for two mule loads of dirt to take back with him to Syria, so he can worship on it. The good soil. (Not exactly what Jesus had in mind with His parable!) Naaman thought, incorrectly of course, that it mattered where you were, how you were, and what you did in regards to worshiping God. But even as we laugh at such a notion, don’t we often do the same things? I have been a part of groups that believed if you weren’t baptized in their “dirt,” then the Baptism didn’t count. I have been with groups that believed if you didn’t read from the King Dirt Version of the Bible, you couldn’t be saved. I have even known of, though fortunately never been through, what is known as a church split. This is when certain sanctified Believers get mad, pack up their dirt, move about one mile down the road, plant their dirt and try to be an annoyance to the original dirt. In West Kentucky, there is even a certain place where right across the street from one another are Mt Moriah Baptist Church and The Original Mt Moriah Baptist Church. Yep, the sign says it just like that: “The Original Mt Moriah Baptist Church” and yes, they are literally across the street from one another.

But, honestly, what makes us think our dirt is better than anyone else’s dirt? If Baptist Dirt is clean, does that mean that Presbyterian Dirt is dirty? Of course not. It means we are being silly, and sinful, and prideful. When we get to packing up our dirt, or storing up our dirt, our refusing to share our dirt, we let the Devil win. And really, people, it’s just dirt anyway! The things of this world will be burned up, according to Peter. And the only two things that will remain are people and the truth. This is where we should invest our the Truth (God’s Word) and in other people.