Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trying to Look Through Kingdom Eyes

I just watched a commercial for "Scope" mouthwash, and realized that this simple commercial perfectly highlighted just how upside-down and twisted our world is.

  • In the commercial, a guy is doing dishes and working in the kitchen when he breaks out all the fixin's for a great sandwich.  He slathers mayo and mustard on the bread, piles up succulent meat and lettuce and juicy tomatoes, then tops it off with a healthy serving of savory red onions.  
  • Good lookin' sandwich! He munches it down, clearly enjoying every bite.  
  • But suddenly, he remembers his wife or girlfriend is on her way, so he hurries to put all the fixin's away, obliterating any evidence of his sandwich.  He quickly wipes the counter and puts away the dishes, erasing any evidence of his afternoon dalliance. 
  • As she turns the locks on the door, he runs to the bathroom, grabs a bottle of "new and improved Scope" and swishes away the last vestiges of onion and mustard left on his palate, thereby completely destroying all evidence of what now appears to have been an inappropriate relationship with an afternoon snack. 
  • His lovely female partner walks in, oblivious to any of her man's afternoon shenanigans, kisses him sweetly, then gives him a curious look. The man clearly thinks the jig is up. 
  • Gazing lovingly into his eyes, she says "You didn't have to clean the kitchen!"
  • Relief washes over the guys face as a momentary crack develops in his facade of innocence.  Just as quickly the facade repairs itself, and the guy, feigning humility, gives his lady an 'ah shucks' shrug of the shoulders.  
  • "Scott free, and she loves me."  
  • Life is good! 
  • Scope is good. 

Do you see the broken world in this simple, innocent little commercial? It's kind of like seeing the air we breath - you have to look carefully and focus on it, but it's there.

A guy does something completely innocent and acceptable - makes a sandwich.  The guy enjoys it, because the sandwich is good!  Yum!

Then, for whatever reason, the guy suddenly feels guilty about eating the sandwich. Why? The commercial doesn't say.

Maybe he and his lady have dinner plans, and his lady would feel like he's spoiling his appetite.  Maybe he's been putting on some weight, and he told his lady he'd work on it.  Maybe onions cause acid-reflux for the guy, and he knows that she knows he shouldn't eat them. Maybe onions give him gas, and his lady has asked him to avoid onions because he's killin' her! Who knows? It could be any one of a dozen reasons, and the reason really doesn't matter.

What does matter is, for whatever reason, he's done something that he doesn't want her to know about, and he now needs to hide it. He scrambles to hide all the evidence of his dalliance, wiping down the counters, and covers the scent of his waywardness with new and improved Scope!

Do you see how broken that is?  Do you see how dysfunctional that is?

We pass it off and accept this sort of behavior as normal and harmless in relationships - we even chuckle because of the truth the commercial portrays -  but come on people, its not good!

Lying? Deception? How can these things ever be good in a relationship? Especially in a marriage? This is a recipe for disaster.

Ask yourself this: if you are going to lie about the very little things - like the guy in this commercial did - what are you going to say when the big things come along that require honesty and integrity?

And if you do lie about little things, why in the world would anyone believe you about the big things anyway?

Men, I direct this especially toward us because we are often the first to hide things.

In my first marriage, I'll openly admit, this was my motus operendi.

I did all sorts of essentially innocent and innocuous things - things like buying a hamburger or candy bar on the way home, or blowing off some stress by going to a movie when I should have been in a class- and then I'd feel like I needed to hide all the evidence simply because I didn't want to deal with the potential argument I thought I might have with my wife over the hamburger or candy bar or the movie.

"Why did you spend money we don't have?"

"Didn't you stop to think I might have wanted to go to a movie, too?"

"Don't you want to do things with me? You don't love me?"

These are the sorts of things that went through my mind, the things I imagined my wife would say had I been honest and told her what I'd done. They were, for the most part, fabrications of my own mind, and had no real basis in reality.

I know now, had I simply been honest there'd have been no argument - or at least not like the one I imagined we'd have! My dishonesty in little things was one (of many) factor that led to the demise of my first marriage.  My wife, when she found out about the small lies, began to feel like she couldn't trust me.

What worse, it was true.  She couldn't trust me.  Much as I might have protested (and believe me, I did), the evidence she saw told her she couldn't trust me.

I knew in my heart that I was not going to cheat or do anything horrible like that, but the bottom line was this: If I lie in the little things, why should I be trusted in the big things?

And we wink at the Scope commercial and say, "how cute!".  Meanwhile, he's harboring a lie, and there's a ticking time-bomb simmering in their relationship.  It may be a small lie, but, as the old adage goes, "what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive".

I encourage you, my brothers especially who might read this - look around your world and your life and see the brokenness and dysfunctionality of this world for what it is - it's not cute, it's not funny, and it's not good.

Honesty and integrity are important.  They are Godly attributes we need to hold onto and cherish.  Honesty in our relationships, especially with our spouses, is tantamount and must be a centerpiece of our lives.

Trust is built over a long period by small steps, as we prove our trustworthiness to one another.  Trust can be destroyed by one small misstep along the way.

I'm not saying we can be nor should we be expected to be perfect people, but we do need to look around our lives and see how we let the kingdom of the world define how we behave, and instead do our best to lives defined by the Kingdom of God.

Romans 13:11-14 says,
"This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here
"So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires."

Begin to see the world through Kingdom eyes. Only then can we begin to change our world for God.