When I was a kid, I always wondered why anyone would ever choose Frankenberry over Count Chocula.
Because . . . chocolate. That was my entire reason.
Of course, even though I was only a kid, I never put the Count on a pedestal or anything. I still instinctively knew that cereal chocolate didn’t really count as true chocolate. It was actually the first bite of Cocoa Krispies that tipped me off. It was more like: snap, crackle, I don’t think so.
I’m sorry, but I’ve just never been all that cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. They just don’t smell right, like a cross between moldy baby-oiled aluminum and sweetened pest strips. Spoiled, oiled, or foiled—who knows?
Calling cereal chocolate real chocolate would be like calling cereal marshmallows real marshmallows. I know it’s supposed to be to a breakfast cereal’s credit when it stays crunchy even in milk, but I don’t think that’s supposed to go for the mallows. Whenever you bite down on a marshmallow, you shouldn’t be able to hear it. Styrofoam-squeaky-hissy noises give me the shivers. Whatever those things are, they’re just not right.
They’re not marshmallows. It’s not chocolate.
Crumble Ho Hos in a bowl. Add milk. THERE’S your chocolate cereal.
There’s always disappointment in encountering the fake. So much more so when we’re talking about our spirituality. Sometimes we don’t even set out to be fake. As pastors’ wives sometimes we can get a super-religiosity label automatically pasted on us by some. Half the time we’re not the ones who construct the pedestal.
Still, we get into real trouble when we read that label and then we try to fake our way into matching ourselves to it simply to save face. We get into even bigger trouble when we start to actually believe the label. “Hey, thanks for this nice pedestal. Could you give me a little boost?”
We’re reminded in 1 Samuel 16:7 that God sees things differently. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart (ESV).
So what is it that makes us “spiritual” people? It’s not about who we marry. It’s not about any position in any church or ministry. It certainly doesn’t happen in setting ourselves above others. Being a Jesus-follower is more about climbing down off that pedestal and washing dirty feet.
The scene never ceases to amaze me. So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him (John 13:4–5, HCSB). The Son of God, our Redeemer, the King of Kings, put on a servant’s costume and took on the humiliating task of the lowliest servant.
And later, When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” (verses 12–15, HCSB)
I wonder if sometimes we feel so compelled to “look spiritual” that we forget to “BE spiritual.” Or if we even let ourselves lose touch with what real spirituality is.
“For Sale. One Pedestal. Only Slightly Used. Will Also Trade for Altar.”
The pride/pedestal/self-exaltation route is definitely not spiritual. It’s certainly not what the Lord intends for us. James 4:6–10 tells us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (ESV).
Paul said further that “spiritual” worship is to present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1, ESV). Wow. Big difference between a pedestal and an altar of sacrifice. This convicts me. This is about humbling ourselves further than getting off the pedestal, further still than even the foot-washing.
The spiritual giant is the one who loves Jesus all the way to the altar of sacrifice. She’s the one who allows that love to show up in the most humble service. She’s the one who sacrifices every single part of herself and continually allows the Holy Spirit to work out His love in and through her. “Spiritual” is the result of being “Spirit-filled.”
And don’t you love it that the Lord has tagged a blessing onto the sacrifice? We’re told in verse 17 in the John 13 passage that if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
So let’s know, and do, and be blessed. All out of love for Him. Because . . . Jesus. That’s my entire reason.
Adapted from Join the Insanity—Crazy-Fun Life in the Pastors’ Wives Club by Rhonda Rhea (New Hope Publishers, 2014).