As a child my father was a hard worker. He would put long hours in on the farm. For the most part, it was his hard labors that held that hog farm together. And I imagine that without him, the farm wouldn’t have lasted two years. However, after all the long hours that he put in, he was exhausted when he came home. Perhaps exhausted is an understatement, for I recall one night after a particularly hard day he fell asleep in his spaghetti. This went on for years. Because time and resources were so tight, things around the home were not always fixed like they were on the farm. On the farm, Dad assured that things were done right. If they were not, it only snowballed the problem as the days would go by. The farm could not afford quick fixes. But at home, he did what he could, when he could. While I do not recall duct tape actually being used to hold certain things together, the duct tape mentality was often there. Try to fix it as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible until time and resources were allotted to get it done right. Through the years many projects were done right. And, through the years some projects were left undone (some of these are even household jokes in our home). As I look back on these memories as a child, I see great lessons in our walk as Christians.
Sometimes we get really, really busy. I understand this, believe me I do. I have four children we home school. These kids have their own extracurricular activities they are engaged in, sports, 4-H, Jr. Master Gardners, etc. As the gospel meeting was approaching we saw the need to begin the planting season (and we have been doing this all this past week). I have my lessons, bulletin articles, sermons, and power points to prepare. I have 4 kids I need to entertain, I have things to fix around the house, flooding in the basement, parents to keep up with, a brother and sister that need my support and spiritual guidance. As such, I know that there are times were my spiritual house is neglected. When this is done, my soul suffers. I cannot expect to keep the soul strengthened, sharpened, and strong if I fail to supply unto it what it needs; rest, instruction, prayer, etc. What this means is that we need to make time for spiritual growth. Like a brother in Christ from Kennett, MO always said, “If you ain’t goin’ forwards, your goin’ back’ards.” We can’t afford to not grow. In II Pet. 1 Peter listed a series of virtues or graces that a Christian is supposed to be growing in. These graces included knowledge, self-control, brotherly kindness, and love. And he claimed, “For if these things are in you and abound, they make you to be neither idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:8).” Our “house” will always be useful and in tip top shape if we are growing (or abounding) in these things. But if we fail, Peter writes, “For he in whom these things are not present is blind and cannot see afar off and has forgotten that he was purged from his sins in the past (II Pet. 1:9).” When we are taking for granted the forgiveness of our sins. In other words, God didn’t send His Son to die for our sins so that we can claim “I’m just too busy to do better.”
Furthermore, I would argue that duct tape religion is not the answer either. In a world enthralled with immediate gratification, instant results and cutting corners to get jobs done faster, many have sabotaged their faith. You cannot slap duct tape upon your soul and think that it is good enough until you have time to make it better. Just as “quick fixes” in the home are not built to last, neither is duct tape for the soul. For starters, it only draws more attention to the fact that something is wrong. The tape sticks out like a sore thumb. Everyone that sees it realizes that it is merely trying to hold something together that is already broken. When we use duct tape on the soul, we might be able to fool our parents. We might fool our kids. We might be even capable of fooling our spouses. But, we will never fool God. If he can see through to our very hearts, he can see through any duct we try to use to mask the problem and it becomes obvious to Him that you are not really interested in fixing what really matters. And, in the end, you are no better off that the Pharisees who tried so hard to clean the outside of the cup. Secondly, the duct tape on your soul is not built to last forever. It will only mask the issue for a short period of time. Eventually, it will fail you. And what then? What do you do when your lack of faith is exposed before all and your world finally comes crashing down around you? Yes, a church filled with good Christians will be more than willing to help you do read repair work. But, will you learn your lesson? Will you begin putting the work into growing as a Christian or will you continue to follow the destructive pattern of using duct tape for your soul? ~WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Duct Tape and Religion
Volume 4 Issue 22 May 5, 2013