Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Roofing the Temple

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. -- 1 Peter 4:7-8

My father helped build the little country church that we attended.  Most of the labor was volunteered by the men of the congregation so that the expenses were limited to material, but they did hire one experienced and skilled builder -- a man named Angus or Ang.  Ang liked to tip a bottle, like his father who was a local doctor.  He wasn't particularly a Christian, but he was no particular wicked either.  As they started to put the roof on the building, Ang observed to the crew, "Here is where we cover a multitude of sins."  The double meaning raised a chuckle, I'm sure.  In the end, the various, small "cheats" of the carpenter's craft would not detract from the integrity of the structure, from its clean, unpretentious lines or its utility.  It is an old church building now and has been remodeled a little and added onto a bit, but the core of the structure Ang and Dad and the rest raised stands firm and solid.   

Another Apostle agreed with Peter:  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

We know that Christianity is more than rule-keeping, more than law.  The Law is a sign at the border of the kingdom.  Christianity requires us to love, not just those who love us, but our enemies.  It is not, however, a naive, pacifist sentiment.  It is doing right by, for, and to others.  Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone, the most loving thing, is to lock them in a jail cell.  Sometimes you have to tell someone that what they are doing has to stop, and, if they won't stop on their own, the thing that is right is to stop them.  Whatever that takes. 

Most of the time, though, we are able to express our love by helping, encouraging, and supporting others.  Most of our enemies are not crazed jihadists on some foreign field but the guy down the street who lets his dog loose in our yard, the sadistic supervisor at work, or the snotty, overbearing mother at soccer practice.  Those are people that we can easily afford to forgive and easily help out when they find their battery is dead or they need lunch money.  Consider them as target practice.  They are helping us become better Christians. 

The truth is that we are all a little like Ang's church house, with our ugly little fixes -- that bad two-by-four that needed a scrap tacked on and such.  If we stripped off the roof and walls, everybody would see the places where things didn't quite come together and are a little out of plumb.  Decent people are always harder on themselves than on anybody else, probably harder on themselves than they should be.  If I am a decent person, it is because I am honest about my out-of-square corners and the rafters that don't quite meet at the heel. 

I can't really do anything about that.  I built with the material I had available and with the help that I had.   Those who poured the foundation may have misread the level a time or two, but I think they mixed the concrete plenty rich, and it is not going anywhere any time soon.  I'm not perfect, but maybe I am solid enough.  In any case, I can love my Lord by obeying Him and love my neighbors by doing them good and never wronging them, and this old house maybe won't looks so bad.  Perhaps those passing by will say, "At least it has a good roof."  


julie said...


Just so.

mushroom said...


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That's why I don't go to soccer practice anymore. :)
Well said!

mushroom said...

They are talking about soccer for the youngest grandson. The kid is going to be probably 6'3" or 6'4" and massive, but his mom says she'll never let him play football. Ha. He has lineman written all over him, preferably defense.

Although, I suppose I would settle for a teutonic Pujols.