Rounding a curve of a country lane, I smelled the place before I saw it. Powerful emanations from a pig pen near the road gagged me. But something I saw as I approached shook me even more than the smell.
For there, stretched out on a lounge chair amidst the muck of the pen and the oinking pigs, reclined a little man.
Holding my nose I approached. “Excuse me sir,” I said with a nasal tone (caused by pinching my olfactory organ), “but could you tell me why you’re lounging in a stinking hog pen?”
“Huh?” He seemed startled by the question. “Oh, yeah. Hog pen? Well, you see, I like it here. It’s cool and quiet when the porkers aren’t feeding or fighting.”
“But the smell! How can you stand it?”
“The smell? Oh, yes, that. Well, it did bother me at first. Bothered me a lot as a matter of fact but after you’re here for awhile you don’t really notice it. Kind of got used to it, you see. So, I just hang out here with my piggy friends and enjoy the world.”
“Ah, yes.” I unclenched my nose because I really didn’t want to breath that nasty air in through my mouth—and I nearly choked! “Well, we’ll be passing you by,” I shot back over my shoulder as I broke into a run to try to escaped the filthy odor.
“Living in a pig pen, can you imagine that?”
You know how you get used to the odor of pigs? A little bit at a time. Vickie Cobb writes in Education World, “As your nerves are stimulated by light, temperature, or sound, they adapt. The stimulus becomes less apparent. Of all the senses, the fastest adapting one is your sense of smell! … What is your reaction to the smell of rotten garbage? Do you hold your breath? Ask a garbage man about the smell of garbage. Does it bother him, or is it not so bad?” (Educationworld.com)
This seems to be a spiritual principle too. When we first encounter something that offends the Lord, it also offends us. But, if we stick it out, our resistance seems to tire and it doesn’t seem so bad at all.
I was reading a review of a new movie on a well-known Christian website recently. The review was mostly positive: “However, content aside, _____ is an ambitious, visionary epic that is well-matched to Snyder’s imaginative style… It’s a surprisingly good adaptation of unique sci-fi material that is challenging and haunting.”
The article noted however: “___ is rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity, and language. Take the rating very seriously, as it applies the superhero genre to a gritty, real world environment. The fight scenes are graphically depicted with broken bones and spurting blood—in one particularly nasty scene, a thug’s arms are sawed off. There’s plenty of nudity, most notably __, a ghostly-looking CGI generated superhero often depicted fully nude. The sexuality involves a couple of very adult scenes involving intercourse, as well as an attempted rape. And the language runs the gamut from the f-bomb to misusing God’s name. This may be a movie about comic book characters, but it’s definitely not for kids and sensitive viewers.”
“Sensitive viewers?” Sensitive to who? The Holy Spirit maybe …?
The Christian website included it among it’s top rated movies with the caveat. “Again, a positive review does not necessarily constitute a recommendation, nor agreement with the film’s message.”
If we dull our senses by cavorting in the pig pen, we’re less capable of hearing God’s voice. I hear the “legalism” bells going off in some of your heads. But, you know, we’ve used our fear of legalism to justify all sorts of muck and bad smells—things that separate us from intimacy with God.
God’s kingdom works backward to what we’re used to. Here, the more we’re exposed to something the less sensitive we are to it. But the more we’re exposed to God’s Spirit, the more we’re sensitive to Him and what He wants.
We have to choose, though. We can’t have it both ways.
“Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:
‘I’ll live in them, move into them;
I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good,” says God.
‘Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I’ll be a Father to you;
you’ll be sons and daughters to me.’
The Word of the Master, God.”
(2 Cor. 6: 16, 17 The Message)
The fact is, you can’t wallow in the pig pen and still smell the sweet fragrance of the Holy Spirit. And the fragrance we give off to others after a romp in the pigpen doesn’t resemble Christ in any way. And that’s not just in the area of the media but in everything in our lives.
Just a thought. Love to hear your take on it. (I’ll put your responses on the website, with your first name only).
“Much of our psychological pain is due to wounds to our ego.” Mountain Wings article