Archive for the ‘The Expulsive Power of a New Affection’ Tag

Bird Droppings and Broken Cisterns

“As soon as I looked at it, it gave me chills all over my body. I was just like, you know, I just couldn’t believe it.” This was not someone standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or at the foot of Mt. Rushmore or on the beach looking out on the Pacific Ocean…this is a quote from a news story regarding the appearance of an image of “the Virgin of Guadeloupe” that literally “fell out of the sky” in Bryan, Texas. The words were spoken by a young lady in reaction to seeing a bird dropping that had fallen onto the window of a vehicle creating a likeness to “the Virgin of Guadeloupe”. You can view the news story here.

Do you find anything wrong with this story? That someone actually examined this bird poop long enough to see something in it…that this actually made the news (maybe not so surprising in Bryan, Texas, but the national news picked it up)…that people from miles around made the journey to see this bird poop. There are so many problems brought to light here. I want to go to the heartbreaking root of things demonstrated by this story.

Let me start with Thomas Chalmers words in his sermon, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. Chalmers states, “In attempting to bring a worldly man intent and busied with the prosecution of his objects to a dead stand, we have not merely to encounter the charm which he annexes to these objects – but we have to encounter the pleasure which he feels in the very prosecution of them. It is not enough, then, that we dissipate the charm, by a moral, and eloquent, and affecting exposure of its illusiveness. We must address to the eye of his mind another object, with a charm powerful enough to dispossess the first of its influences, and to engage him in some other prosecution as full of interest, and hope, and congenial activity, as the former.”

This, in essence, is the thesis of his sermon – that it is not enough just to demonstrate to the people of Bryan, Texas, that bird poop is not worthy of giving them chills or invoking awe in them. Although lack of worth and “awesome-ness” in bird poop may seem obvious to us and we wonder why it is not obvious to these other folks, the more appalling and heartbreaking problem here is the completely absent or abysmal view of God’s glory and worth that is held to which causes bird poop to appear precious to people.

Naturally, like self-righteous Pharisees, we find such a display of idolatry incredulous. It is so blatantly obvious to most that a bird dropping is not worthy of admiration and exaltation. However, let’s not be too quick to look down on these folks who made the pilgrimage to Bryan, Texas. Each day we esteem, much too highly, things that are not worthy of our worship?

So we can look with incredulity at the folks in Bryan, Texas, but really – the infinite distance between bird poop and God’s glory is equal to the infinite expanse between our own idols and God’s glory. At the root of all our sin is an inadequate or absent view of God’s worth and glory and the fact that we have not esteemed God as God.

Jeremiah 2:12-13 says, “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We are appalled and shocked at the commission of everyone else’s idolatry, but we rarely ever look into our own hearts to find the same sin at work in us. Like fools dying of thirst in the desert, we have turned our backs on the fresh, clean and cold refreshment provided by a spring fountain of water and we’ve dug holes in the ground waiting for them to be filled up with muddy, bacteria-laced, luke warm water. And our holes empty as fast as they are filled up because they can’t even hold the nasty water we try to collect in them.

I don’t know what the broken cisterns are in your life, but I know that it is not enough for me or anyone else to try and prove to us the inadequacy of our holes in the ground. What we must do is look to an infinitely better source of refreshment for our souls and then fall in love with that object. Let’s put away our idolatry, not merely because our idols are empty and vain and useless and powerless. Let’s put away our idolatry because there is only one in all the universe who is worthy of all glory and honor and power and praise.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 4:6