Of Dog Crap and Sanctification
What I am seeing more and more of, however, are abandoned plastic bags full of pooch poop. It’s seriously becoming an epidemic; you can find doo-filled bags stuffed in bushes and discarded on remote streets. You see, people will stop and pick up after their dog while they’re being watched, and then toss the bag when they’re not. It’s crazy. . . I mean, they’ve already done the humiliating work of picking it up and then they toss it where it can’t even decompose properly.
We’re all guilty of some form of this behavior. Maybe you don’t return the shopping cart when no one’s around, or perhaps you don’t bother washing your hands when the bathroom’s empty. Most of us want to be considered good citizens more than we want to be good citizens. This duplicity usually works because we generally know how to look like we’re doing what we think is expected of us.
Christians are often accused of being hypocrites, but, on some level, everyone is. Not many of us have internalized the virtues that we’re desperately trying to convince others we have.
There’s just such a well-developed sense of “good Christian behavior,” that it’s easy to learn to “bag up our mess” and then throw it in the shrubs when no one’s looking. I don’t mean to excuse our behavior; it’s probably one of the most detrimental traits affecting our spiritual formation.
Duplicity Kills Spiritual Progress
Here’s the funny thing about dog poo: if you didn’t bother picking it up, it would be gone with the first rainfall. Sure, it’s a gross inconvenience, but it has an expiration date. When you wrap it up in plastic and hide it, the world is left with a moldering bag of crap that will be there until someone deals with it. Leaving it on the street isn’t ideal, but it’s better than acting like you’re taking care of it when you aren’t. The world isn’t a better place because we’re pretending to have our shit* together (no pun intended).
Our spiritual lives aren’t that much different. When you train yourself to appear religious instead of allowing yourself to be transparent, you are creating spiritual ennui and weakness that is almost impossible for God to touch—and the spiritual rot just hides and festers.
It’s important that we foster a Christian community that accepts people where they are and encourages a transparent honesty. When we encourage duplicity by tacitly enforcing the “oughts and shoulds” over connection to Christ, we are participating in creating pharisees (and we all know how Jesus felt about them). He called them whitewashed sepulchres, but in our modern vernacular, he might have called them hidden bags of dog mess.
*I agonized over replacing this word but, in light of the post’s point, I felt it would be disingenuous.