Part 4, still dirt, The Dirt Story continues.
How does bad dirt or good dirt become sacred ground, and live as a holy temple? These were the questions that I needed to dig into because these were the questions that I had struggled with for most of my life. At this point, I was aware and willing to keep asking them because I knew the answers would continue to determine everything I did and filter everything I had done.
For a long time, I thought living as a holy temple meant strictly doing some things and not doing other things. Examples of this would be going to church, reading the Bible, praying, telling the truth and not committing “sins.” In fact, I spent a lot of years studying doctrine and theology, and trying to apply my particular religion’s understanding of truth to just about everything I did. I am not saying that I did this very well or I made a lot progress making my temple holy. If anything, I looked very much like one those Pharisees who were always cleaning the outside of the cup.
There were times that I listened to 2 or 3 sermons a day, only listened to “Christian” music, made my 3 year old memorize the entire children’s catechism, refused to participate in Halloween, homeschooled and then there was the whole Santa Claus thing that I am still apologizing to my kids for doing. During this season of my life, I tried really hard to make myself what I thought God wanted me to be, a holy temple.
Guess what? It didn’t work. If anything it probably had the opposite result. Instead of becoming a holy temple, I unintentionally avoided The Way, The Truth and the Life that I now believe christians are clearly called to imitate. Sadly, in all my busyness, I had ignored the rest that Christ gives and I had refused the perfect work of Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Even more, I found that all this effort, time and obsession with becoming holy, resulted in fueling a pretty crappy human being who poorly loved myself, my neighbor or my God. At no point am I saying that praying, going to church, homeschooling, “Christian” music and listening to sermons are bad, and I am also not saying that these things are good in and of themselves. What I am saying is that doing these things to get a result, in this case to become a holy temple, revealed that I had the mind of a consumer, not the mind of Christ.
Let’s be clear, I do believe that God designed us to become our best selves and to participate in the process. Likewise, I believe we are created to be holy temples and to be perfect. However, I don’t believe that we have been given a formula or a “to do list” to become holy but rather we are made holy by a Holy Spirit who is given to us and we are “built up in spirit into God’s dwelling place.”
To put it differently, I realized that neither you or I can make ourselves holy by any amount of doing or good deed doing. Rather, we are made to be holy, and it was this truth that set me free to learn how to imitate Christ and to follow the Way, the Truth and Life… here on earth. It wasn’t like I had to guess about how to do this because I had been given a perfect example of how I am designed to live on earth as a holy human being by the holiest of all human beings.
Much too often I think we we forget the only way we can show our holiness here on earth is by being the best human beings who we can possibly be in thought, word and deed. And, that to become the best dirt on the planet does requires effort. Again, I think the Bible describes how holy human beings are designed to live and love, and the reason we do things is not to get result but because they are the right, good and true things that we are designed to do. Remember the story of Adam and Eve, they just lived the way they were designed in a perfect relationship with God before The Fall.
When I gave up trying to be holy and I accepted the gift of holiness that I had been given and the working of the Holy Spirit in me, then I was set free to do the things that human beings can do and will do when they know they are Holy Temples and they are in a relationship with the Divine. It was here that I started to look at myself and I began to ponder my human being’s design and how I am designed to be vulnerable, needy, fragile, sensitive, insecure, weak, desperate and dependent on Love and Truth.
Understanding and accepting myself in this way challenged and confronted everything I had done and why I did it, and it also allowed me to think about how I would now and forevermore treat myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and relationally as a wonderfully made healthy, whole, holy and finite human being. Knowing that I could not make myself more holy anymore than I could make myself more human, I asked questions about what I could do and what I am designed to do. The answers came pretty easily and clearly and I accepted them. In sitting with Truth and asking questions, I began to see how I could participate, and how I could nourish, inspire, encourage, give and remember Truth and Love. And by doing these things, I would be doing what I am designed to do because this is what I am designed to do.
By knowing who I was and how I was designed, I saw how I could freely participate in enriching the dirt of which I am made, the dirt I share with my neighbors and the dirt that I am given to live in, and how loving this dirt would show others what I believe in. I understood that I could not live (excuse my French) as a shitty human being and use my spirit, heart, mind, body and neighbors as a means to my own selfish, idolatrous, gluttonous and greedy ends and believe for one second that any amount of church going, Bible reading or praying would redeem my unwillingness to love God with all my heart mind, soul and strength and love my neighbors as myself .
Remember Jesus did say “21Not everyone saying ‘Lord, Lord’ to me will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but rather the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and exorcize demons in your name, and perform many acts of power in your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them that: ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “ Matt. 7:21-23, The Bible
Let me say this one more time because this is the answer to living as a Holy Temple. When I knew and accepted who I was and how I was designed by God to be healthy, whole, holy and human, then I began to understand how I could live as a giver and receiver of life, love, truth, hope and joy, and participate in creating the space and readying my dirt for the seeds to be sown.