A year ago, while working my part-time custodial job at my church, I met a young man who was waiting for a bus to pick him up. He had just been released from jail and was headed back to Caledonia to resume his old job. He told me he owed child support money, and while in jail, he had realized that he needed to get back to the Lord and "do what's right." I've heard that saying often enough: "Do what's right." And there's a lot to be said for doing what's right. Good for that young man, who wants to do the right thing. The world would be a far better place if we all could consistently pull that off. But realistically, we don't. And it's not what the gospel is about. The gospel is not about behavior modification; it is about heart transformation. It is not about our doing well but Christ's doing well for us, in us, and through us. The gospel is about experiencing a change in our source of life, from what the Bible calls the "flesh" to eternal life that resides in the Son of God. Jesus in us and we in him: that is the arrangement God offers us out of his great, great love for us. We are no longer on our own, striving to meet the quota on an endless moral assembly line; instead, those of us who are exhausted by our efforts to get it right, and beaten down by our failures, can rest in Someone who got it right for us; who loves us beyond anything we can imagine; and who doesn't stand outside us as a taskmaster but lives inside us as our very life, producing the fruit of his own character in us as we walk with him. John 1:17 says, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." No more doing what's right in order to become righteous; instead, doing what's right because we are righteous, and by nature we want to do those things that please the One who loves us. That is one way of looking at Christianity.
Lying on the floor reading several days ago, I noticed a tiny ant traipsing along, proudly waving some kind of delectable twice its size overhead like a banner. Then I saw another...and another...and...good grief, they were everywhere, scurrying to and fro, carrying unidentifiable forms of ant food. Apparently they've established an outpost in my living room, and the carpet in my workspace is heavily trafficked. They're so small and the carpet camouflages them so well that I never realized how many there really are. So today I got down to business. I began by vacuuming the carpet thoroughly with my Hoover vacuum cleaner, which is powerful enough to ingest anything within three feet of it that isn't bolted to the floor--but no, not good enough. In short order the ants were back, parading their foodstuff in triumph. This could not be allowed to continue. After researching about ant control online, I misted the carpet with white vinegar, which messes up the ants' pheromone trails so they don't know which way they're headed and they lose all sense of meaning and purpose in life. Many grow depressed. It's a weird thing to hear scores of despondent ants weeping, the sound of their lamentations drifting up faintly from the floor. The carpet now smelled like a giant foot, but that was a small price to pay for messing with an ant colony's pheromones. Now for my next step. I headed to the store and purchased ant spray, borax, and a bag of diatomaceous earth, a powder so fine that it sifts inside an ant's exoskeleton, slices it up, and desiccates the ant. Picture hundreds upon hundreds of wee little mummified ants. Or don't. It's up to you. Back home, I took the can of ant spray and sprayed all around the baseboard and door frame inside, and outside along the patio. Then, following the directions on the bag of diatomaceous earth, I sprinkled handfuls of the stuff all over the carpet in the ant-infested area. Heh, heh! I thought. This ought to sort the little buggers. I just, according to the directions, needed to work the powder into the carpet with a broom. Did you know that diatomaceous earth is so incredibly, almost molecularly, fine that it acts like mud even when it's dry? It doesn't "work into the carpet"; what it does is sort of smear all over the place in big white blotches and streaks that do not, no matter how hard and long you sweep, go gently into that good nap. Nope. Once those blotches are there, by golly, there they are. Only time and repeated vacuuming will make them go bye-bye. Ah, well. The ants are in for a time of it, anyway. Now to complete the job by mixing up a paste of borax and corn syrup. Supposedly ants love the stuff, and they'll cart it back to their nest, where it will slowly poison the whole colony. Ant spray, diatomaceous earth, and borax--three-pronged hell descends on the ants in my living room. This better work, that's all I can say. Gadz, the carpet looks like a disaster.