It was a dingy truck stop with “World Famous” coffee and yesterday’s News Herald. It was also my pharmacy, where I frequently purchased my Monster energy drinks (sugar-free) and BC powders.
The credit/debit slidey machine was usually down, but for a $2.50 fee you could use the ATM in the back.
After drinking my weight in coffee that morning it was time for me to introduce myself to the bathroom. I took a deep breath before breaking the threshold of the door; I’d rather save my nostrils from the burning sensation.
The condition of the establishment betrayed the quality of the rough and tumble types that frequented it. Bleach was not its friend. The walls, the subject of much sharpie and ball point abuse, were painted and repainted differing shades of white.
White trash graffiti littered the walls above my stall with doodlings that would make Charlie Sheen blush with shame.
In between the “call for a good time’s” and apocalyptic warnings of a race war, a curious observation was made. It was a solitary sentiment of sanity that ignored the nasty upside down world it was placed in.
It made me literally laugh out loud. It read in bold black letters:
“Toy Story 3 was OK”
Some truck stop movie critic saw it fit to inject some innocence into this profane world. Given the positioning of the message (a few inches above my head), it wasn’t written by a child either.
Believe it or not, that little observation got me thinking. I’m always grasping for analogies no matter how far of a stretch they may be.
We can (and should) address many things in relation to the gospel. Rated R movies, alcohol consumption, finances, church attendance, self esteem, political affinities, etc. But if secondary “rule-keeping” issues become the main message the world is hearing then the church has become as irrelevant as light-hearted bathroom graffiti.
A gospel of levity and law keeping cannot begin to address the depth and brevity of the sprawling trash heap that much of culture has become.
The biblical gospel message deals directly with depraved hearts and filthy souls, showing that so nasty is the scourge on humanity, the only viable cure was God slaying His own Son on a cross as an atoning sacrifice. The gospel addresses sexual trafficking, slavery, drug addiction, starvation, rape, greed, child molestation, racism, pornography, and the whole reality of manifest darkness we dwell in. God has seen it all, judged it all, and weighed all of this iniquity in His hand. But then He did something so inexplicable, so utterly shocking we will never understand it in an eternity of eternities. With that very hand God the Father crushed his own perfect dear Son under the weight of judgment for our iniquity (Isaiah 53:11).
With the Son’s resurrection, the Father ensured His sacrifice was sufficient and new life can be a reality with Him (2 Cor 5:17).
The church has a pearl of great price, so valuable it can restore all manner of broken relationships, political systems, nations, and even truck stops. But the gospel cannot be about mere behavior modification or some domesticated commentary espousing a better life. That would be as misguided as telling an addicted child molester, “Toy Story 3 was OK.”
A gospel that paints over or sidesteps sin never will deal with the root of the issue: the heart.
The gospel must exploit the utter sinfulness of sin in the light of the holiness of God, the blazing love of the Father in the sacrifice of the Son, and the almighty power of God to make all things new in the resurrection.
The gospel is not detached from the reality of sin around us, no, it is the only death-blow to the sin that so dominates our fallen world. An accurate proclamation of this amazing grace is the only bleach for the sin-stained soul, not new laws or 12 step programs.
And as far as our Truck Stop movie critic goes, my two-year old son respectfully disagrees.
He thought Toy Story 3 was awesome.