It was Monday. I didn’t get any calls from church and all seemed to be quiet. So, Karen and I had surf (shrimp) and turf (steak) for supper. Ah, beef, it’s what’s for supper. I had been to HEB and got a really good price on Jumbo shrimp, but I had to devein them myself. I mention this not to impress you with my culinary skills or good luck, but to lay the groundwork for this week’s blog and vlog.
I suspect many of us have had our fair share of peel and eat shrimp, unless one doesn’t like shrimp. Such a shame, but your loss is another’s gain. Hey, a little butter (a lot in some cases), some crusty French bread and a good glass of wine — a touch of heaven. Salad optional. I mention this because in most instances when I have purchased prawns or jumbo shrimp they have come deveined. Well, the sale price of these shrimp had required me to perform the necessary surgery on each and every shrimp. No big deal, I’ve done it before, but it’s been a while.
As I was engaged in administering this delicate surgery, I realized two things. First, these shrimp had been eating quite well because there was a lot of (you know) “stuff” inside. That’s actually what deveining is all about. Second, when you eat peel and eat shrimp (which are usually smaller versions of bigger shrimp, but are still shrimp), you are also eating the “stuff” that is removed by deveining, unless you get some where that act is done for you. If it doesn’t say deveined, they’re not. Just cause you didn’t see it doesn’t mean you didn’t eat it.
So, as I was deveining and had this brief epiphany, I was also contemplating what I would do for the coming week’s blog. And it hit me. Sin is a lot like the “stuff” found in shrimp which needs to be removed. Sin desperately needs to be removed, too.
With shrimp, it needs a sharp knife, a little skill with the blade so as to cut the shrimp just deep enough to get at the “stuff” without going too deep thus decimating the shrimp, and care not to cut yourself. I have the tools, I have the talent, and, fortunately, I have the necessary patience to do it to all the shrimp. It’s tedious. Sin is more complicated and even more time consuming.
First, it must be exposed as a reality in our lives. Too many of us go around consuming what the world offers us without realizing that much of it is “stuff” that will separate us from God and one another. Oh, it may be satisfying at the moment, but it’s still not good for you because it’s undesirable “stuff”. God’s Word in Law is what exposes sin. It cuts through all our attempts to hide our sin from the world, ourselves, and from Him. It makes it a reality. When we recognize the presence of the sinful “stuff” in our lives (with the help of the Holy Spirit), we can come to God with a repentant heart, humbling ourselves, and surrendering ourselves to His mercy. We confess, “I am a sinner. God help me.” The Law is the sharp blade that reveals the sin in our lives.
We can’t remove it ourselves. Christ is the one who strips the vein of sin in our lives making us clean again. His sacrifice on the cross, His blood shed for the forgiveness of sin, is the way we are washed clean from the sinful “stuff” of which we are guilty. This is the Good News of salvation in the Gospel. Unfortunately, Christ’s gifts of forgiveness and life don’t come easy because we resist. We are reluctant to admit we are guilty of sin. Worse, we have even gone to the point of thinking that if we simply ignore the whole topic of sin we need not concern ourselves with it’s horrible consequences. To consume sin, to become comfortable with sin, to ignore sin and think it doesn’t matter means we become sin.
Thanks be to God that He has tremendous patience with us, His little children. He refuses to give up on us. His Word continues to help us come to know who and what we are — sinners in need of His cleansing action of removing sin from our lives. Unlike the deveining of shrimp, it’s not a one shot deal because we keep engaging in sinful thinking and living. We refuse to live as Christ, but God refuses to let go.
Sin is sin. Just because we can’t see it or won’t acknowledge it doesn’t mean it’s not there tainting our lives. God would clean us if we would open ourselves to Him by believing in the salvation He makes possible in Christ Jesus our Lord. And even the ability to believe, to have faith, is a gift that God gives to us through His Word. All we need do is let God work in our hearts and we will be made clean.
And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder