“Dogs have owners; cats have staff” seems to be the defining phrase of my world these days!
Now those of you who are familiar with cats are also acquainted with cat hair. One of the unpleasant experiences of being “owned” by a cat is the ever present challenge of corralling the hair cats seemingly shed at will. If they choose to do so, they can brush up against your leg as you are preparing to leave for a meeting and deposit a few metric tons of follicle debris on your clothes.
Enter the necessity of the “sticky rollers.” What has prompted this need is the propensity of these furry, follicle-d terrorists to deposit hair on clothing, bedding and furniture. Now the guy who invented these “sticky rollers” is laughing all the way to the bank—in reality they are nothing more than masking tape on a roll with the adhesive side out. For the inventor’s keen insight—not to mention his financial acumen—those in need happily pay a premium of four to five times the actual value of masking tape!
A few weeks back, I was busily removing cat hair from the sofa when one of these pelted jihadists jumped up on the sofa to see what I was doing. As he was undoing all of the work I was trying to accomplish and purring in the meantime (I also believe the purring sound is nothing more than the whirring of an internal hair ejector), I thought, “Why not just address the source of my difficulties?” Grabbing the unsuspecting furry militant, I began to sticky roll the cat! Not only did I remove an immense amount of hair directly at the source, the cat actually liked it!
As people, we often find ourselves in a similar quandary: we are constantly addressing the results and symptoms of our problems—our sins, but we rarely going to the source and seek to attend to the root cause of the “symptoms.” If we are constantly thinking “junk” thoughts, saying the wrong things or doing what we should not, these are just symptoms of the real problem. We cannot merely put a “band aid” on a symptom! We must fix the cause of the problems and change who we are.
The teaching of Jesus makes it clear it is what comes out of us which defiles us and causes sinful behavior. While a new coat of paint will make a wall look great, if it is infested with termites, it is still rotten. This is what motivated Jesus to call the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” in Matthew 23—they looked good on the outside, but inside they were filthy with sin! They were always concerned with symptoms, but would never address the causes.
In our personal lives, the greatest symptom often occurring is the problem with what we say. Too often we choose to overlook those who are constantly negative, always complaining and critical or those who claim to be Christians yet lack any identifying Christian characteristics. If someone is always cranky, irritating, negative and just a phenomenal “pain,” this just might be who they truly are. If being “nice” is the exception, then perhaps being unpleasant is who they actually are!
In Romans 14 the Apostle Paul states, “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” When we stand before Christ, we will not be able to give the excuse, “Well, I wasn’t aware,” or “I never really thought it through,” or “I was having a bad day!” God has given us leaders and people who are responsible for our spiritual well-being. The writer of Hebrews informs us to “Obey your leaders . . . [they are] those who will give an account [of you].” At that moment when we are before Christ, we will be without excuse: He has given us spiritual leaders (in the form of pastors and church leadership) and has placed His Spirit within every believer who is truly His.
I know, I know, this is not an overly acceptable position in our society! Yet I ask for some leeway here; while it may sound cool to think we are the “king of our domain,” and we relish the idea of “going it alone,” are we also willing to be cut off from sound advice and counsel?
Our society bristles at the thought of having to answer to another. Yet we live in a tough world. Even some of those who rebelled the most in the 1960’s have sung, “people who need people are the most wonderful people in the world.” Granted, this was sung from the perspective of the one who needs “to be needed,” it yet speaks volumes regarding the independent attitude of our culture today.
It is not weakness to need others. It is not vanity to seek. There exists for those who seek and those who recognize their need a God who is not merely willing to respond, but rather, He has already responded and He waits on us.
Allow me to caution those of you who are more “literal minded”: it would be unwise to enter our churches and workplaces carrying sticky rollers so we might “sticky roll” those offending persons who live unkempt and offending lives! Granted, it would be both enjoyable and funny, but I can guarantee it would not be well received!
Rolling a cat is workable and even fun. If we want to roll a person, we have to start with ourselves!