Like Button

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

The Canteen Parable

We who are in Christ love forgiveness. It's a marvelous thing. Truly. Being forgiven of all unrighteousness is grand. But did you know it is not enough? I thought up this little story to illustrate.

Corporal Ted is part of a group that has a list of requirements because they are tasked with special duties. At any moment they can be sent anywhere in the world. So Ted's group is required to have certain things on hand at all times, including a packed duffel bag, personal equipment, and, oh, yeah, a canteen full of drinking water. At all times. So at some point Ted's group gets inspected. The sergeant comes through and inspects bags, equipment, even canteens. And Ted's canteen is full of something foul. Horrible. Offensive. "Clean that out, soldier!" his sergeant orders, and Ted complies. Ted returns to the group with a cleaned and sterilized canteen ready to be inspected. And he fails the inspection ... again. Why? He cleaned out the offensive content. What's left? Ted's instructions were to have a canteen filled with drinking water. He no longer had a dirty canteen, but neither did he have a canteen filled with drinking water.

Forgiveness is like that first step. We come to "inspection" and find out that our lives (canteens) are filled with sludge. Horrible, offensive, even toxic sludge. And we take it to Christ and it is cleaned. Problem solved, right? No, it's not. The offense is removed, but the canteen is still empty. It is supposed to be full. You are to be holy as your Father in heaven is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). Clean is important, even essential, but more is needed. Complete righteousness. Perfection (Matt 5:48). Not merely empty.

If we stop at the marvel of forgiveness, as marvelous as that is, we miss the full story. Not only are we forgiven -- made clean. We are made the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). Imagine that! We are cleaned and filled with God's righteousness. Forgiveness is great, but there is so much more. That we are filled by God with His righteousness because of Christ is a story that is truly good news.


Bob said...

i like the story. it illustrates the practical side of being prepared, ready for action. so if we confess our sin, God is just to forgive us our sin, and cleans us from all unrighteousness. we agree that we are filled with the holy Spirit when we first come to Christ, but how do we stay filled?

Stan said...

Scripture commands that we "be filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5:18). The verb tense in Eph 5:18 is interesting. It is present ongoing. Most literally "be being" filled. Present and ongoing. He recommends some helpful items to assist us in that process of "be being filled." Speak to ourselves (to each other and to one another) in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always, submitting to one another (Eph 5:19-21).

Bob said...

But what if i don't feel like i am filled? can someone experience great emotional difficulty and still be filled. i also note that we often speak as though the Spirit were just a Gas or ether, to be breathed in... in catholic school we use the term" Holy Ghost". i always had problems with that, because Ghost are spirits from dead people. and who wants to be filled with spirits of dead people? so i want the Holy Spirit, (who is a person) to make Himself more active in my life. even if i don't feel any different.

Stan said...

Now, I'm just guessing here, but I'd think that Jesus who was certainly "Spirit filled" experienced great emotional difficulty (think "Garden of Gethsemane") and was still "Spirit filled." Paul was certainly Spirit-filled and spoke of his great turmoil (e.g., Rom 7:7-25; Rom 9:1-2). I'd guess that how you feel doesn't determine if you're filled. You're on your own about being continually filled with Gas. Or a dead person's ether.

Bob said...

Great point.. i cant stop laughing at the dead persons ether comment...
People (as opposed to small gnomes or dwarfs) we often want some method or 10 step program to measure our progress. but i Guess its not about progress but rather its about relationship.
I remember my brother freaked when i explained to him that the Holy Spirit was a Person.
he had the Holy Either mind set too.