My kids are 3 and 1.
There’s a fireman hat in my bathroom sink. I don’t know why. There’s dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. That one’s my fault. There’s toys….everywhere. I trip on them at night. I can never find the one that will stop the crying. It’s somewhere. I just don’t know where. I don’t know where the remote is either. On the other hand, I do know that when crayons find their way into the dryer, they melt into my clothes. I don’t care about dust. Dust isn’t on my radar. I don’t even break stride for anything less than bodily fluids on the “You should probably clean that” scale. No pictures. Just trust me. I’ve seen some stuff. My house is a mess most days.
I remember when I used to have a clean house. That was before kids. Now, there is only the mess. For all Good Housekeeping tips, there’s really only one thing that would keep my house clean all the time. I’d have to get rid of the little people who make the mess. I can’t do that. I love them. So I’ll play trains while laying on a floor that should have been vacuumed last week and get up to turn on the TV if that means I get to be with my children.
It sounds campy, like an overreaction against old tv sitcoms where living rooms weren’t obstacle courses, but this is my life right now. I realize that it pales in comparison to school shootings, child abuse, rape, war, abortion, terrorism, and a hundred other things. I’m pretty sure there aren’t Pinterest boards dedicated to glorifying the chaos of our society, just our living rooms. Nobody says “aww shucks, we’ve all been there” to victims, just parents of toddlers.
When it comes to all the serious stuff, we’re a lot less willing to be cutesy about it. The same question always gets lobbed, both by frustrated Christians and smug agnotstics. If there is a God, why does the world look like this? Why not just call down fire upon every murderer and rapist and addict? Why not smite everyone who makes this world worse? Then we could finally have a clean house again.
As quick as we are to separate ourselves from everyone we’d rather see struck by lighting,
There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:22-26).
That means we’re all sinners. If God got rid of everyone who made the world a worse place, everyone who ever hurt someone He loves, there wouldn’t be anyone left. It’s really no different than my house. If I just got rid of my kids when they made a mess, things would be neat and ordered again. I’d just be an awful dad.
What if there was a God who actually loved us? What if He even loved sinners who make the world a mess? What if He even loved us enough to call us sinners His children, washed clean in baptism? Even me, and even you. What if that God would rather comfort us, even in suffering, than condemn us for hurting others?
That would mean that when God saw that the world was a mess, full of evil people, He would take on the same human flesh and the same weakness. He would not stand idly in the heavens, but would enter into this mess to save us. He would have to be named Immanuel, God with us, and Jesus, who would save His people from their sins.
That is the kind of God who would even be willing to pass over our sins with forbearance, putting them on Himself instead, smiting Himself instead of us. That’s the kind of Heavenly Father who sent His only-begotten Son into the world, not to condemn the world for making a mess, but to save the world by dying upon a messy cross and rising from the dead with holes still in His hands.
It would be easy to have a clean and ordered world if there were no sinners here. It would be easy to have a clean and ordered house if there were no kids in it. The thing is, a loving Father can’t do that. He can’t get rid of you. He loves you too much. He would rather make His home in the middle of a mess than destroy His beloved. It’s messy. It hurts. Sometimes I hate it. But God loves us enough to make His home here with us sinners, to die for us sinners, and to save us.
That means He won’t abandon us to this mess. He won’t condemn us for adding to it. He works in the middle of it to help, to serve, and to save. He kneels in the rubble of it all to hold you close, His dear child who’s hurting under the weight of it.
I know this is a scary place. When you look around, you can call a mess what it is. It’s evil. It’s sinful. It’s wrong. But please know that won’t keep God away. He still makes Himself present for sinners. He is here in His Body and Blood, given for us sinners to forgive our sins, to cleanse us from every evil, and to sustain us in this world, and even to tie us to the world to come. That means we don’t have to wait for heaven for Him to wipe every tear from our eye. That means that when you take communion, God helps you here.
Love is a messy house. Love is a messy world. Love is a God who would rather suffer the mess Himself if it meant being close to you. He will help you and save you and bear you through, even unto life everlasting. Even when everything’s a mess, be at peace.