In school, as a child, I learned about germs. They’re all around us. They come out of us. And like them, we feed on life and excrete poop, death, and more germs.
And so, I began to wash my hands a lot. I was driven to cleanliness and then to the doctor’s office. My hands were so chapped that they had cracked and were bleeding from open wounds—open wounds susceptible to infection; more germs!
The doctor said, “Stop washing your hands!” It’s just what my parents had said, and just what I couldn’t seem to do, for the more I tried to forget about germs, the more I thought about germs, and the more I wanted to wash my hands.
Wretched child that I was! Who would save me from this body of germs?
Thanks be to my Dad (Rom. 7:24). I remember walking out of the bathroom, looking at my Dad, and saying, “Guess what Daddy? I went number two and didn’t even wash my hands.”
He looked at me, smiled ear to ear, and said “Oh Peter, I’m so proud of you.”
Some folks have been so neurotic about germs it’s killed them. That’s insane.
And yet thousands die of infectious diseases every day.
If you read Old Testament law regarding defecation and ritual cleanliness, you will find that God makes little Peter Hiett look rather sane.
Human excrement is like the physical manifestation of a deep spiritual disaster called “sin.” And no matter how much we try to cleanse ourselves we only seem to make ourselves more . . . dirty.
One day, a young monk named Martin Luther spent six hours just confessing the sins of the previous day. He knew that the great commandment was to Love God. But the harder he tried to love God, the less he seemed to love God. “Love God? I hate him,” cried Luther in utter desperation.
So, trying to cleanse himself of sin, he committed the most grievous of sins; trying to love God, he longed to crucify God . . . imagine that? The “very commandment that promised life proved to be death to” Martin (Rom. 7:10).
Erik Erikson the Psycho-historian postulated that Luther was mentally ill.
He argued that his real issues had to do with his father, Hans, and potty training.
Luther argued that his real issues had to do with his father, God, and sin.
Erikson postulated that Luther discovered the doctrine of “Salvation by grace through faith” due to a “release,” experienced in the Whittenburg Tower while sitting on a toilet. That does make some sense. All these things are strangely related. But whatever his bowels were doing, we do know that Luther was reading the book of Romans and that what he learned sparked the Reformation.
Romans 7:9 “I was once alive apart from law,” writes Paul, “But when the commandment came, the sin came alive, and I died.” When was that?
Perhaps he’s referring to that time when he was a little boy and had no knowledge of Good and evil?
My son was such a happy little boy, and our home was his garden of Eden, until he gained the knowledge that poo-poo and pee-pee go in the potty. One day I spied on him as he confided in one of his stuffed animals. “Bambi, I can’t go pee-pee in the potty,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Can you go pee-pee in the potty?” The harder he tried, the more anxious he got, and the less the pee-pee went in the potty.
Romans 7:19, Paul continues: “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… I delight [literally ‘have pleasure with’] the law of God in my inner man, but I see in my members another law and making me captive…” He writes as if there is a “new man” imprisoned in his old man and, within the sanctuary of this new man, his spirit communes with another Spirit—evidently the Spirit of I Am that I Am—the Spirit of our Bride Groom and our Dad.
“Wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus. So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.”
Religious folks struggle with that verse; they think it should be written in the past tense, not the present tense. Martin Luther saw what human religion doesn’t want us to see. And that is that sin is a far deeper problem than anything religion can fix. For what is “religion,” but more knowledge of Good and evil applied to the self in the power of the flesh in the desire to make oneself in the image of God, even as one condemns one’s neighbor? It’s just what the snake suggested.
So, with “religion” we try to clean ourselves up and only make ourselves dirtier.
It’s “religion” that crucifies the Christ, and it’s Christ that liberates us from “religion.”
“Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
And how do we know that we are “in Christ Jesus” and he is in us?
Romans 8:15 (RSV) “When we cry ‘Abba (Daddy) Father,’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
My wife obtained a book titled Potty Training in a Day, told me to read it, went shopping, and left me with Jonathan. As the book suggested, I waited until the deed had been done, and Jon was hiding. I found him. I took him by the hand, stood him in front of the bowl, pulled his pull-ups down to his ankles, and turned to get some paper. I turned back just in time to see him look both ways, bend down and grab the visible expression of his sin nature, pick it up, and hurl it at the toilet bowl. It bounced off the lid and into the bowl—two points!
At that, Jon turned and looked at me smiling ear to ear, as he wiped his filthy hand across the front of his little white T-shirt. His eyes were beaming, as if to say, “Daddy aren’t you proud of me?”
And this is my point: I was. Perhaps, never more so. For I had everything I wanted: the heart of my son—my son, covered in filth, but filled with faith.
Poo really isn’t a problem for me, but I would die to earn the trust of my son.
And so, I’m grateful for all his poo, for it gives me a way to do just that.
We’d still work on the details of getting the poo-poo in the potty, but it was never really about the poo—it’s always about the faith.
And that’s what you do with your sins: you don’t hide them; you don’t really even need to fight them (It only makes a bigger mess). You take them to your Father’s throne. Look him in the eye and say “Daddy.” That’s how you fight the ancient dragon.
You’re not your poop; you are the beloved pooper.
Your Dad will clean you up and you will love because he first loved us.
And that’s what you do with poo-poo: fertilize the earth and grow a bunch of fruit.
“Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
It’s this self-centered body of flesh that eats life and poops death.
If we were all one body under one head, perhaps, none of us . . . would poop on any of us?