I really can’t remember who said it now, maybe Mark Twain, “If you got rid of all the preachers and all the garbage collectors at the same time, who do you think you would miss first?”
There is no question that in
it is the garbage collectors we would first long for! Germany is a nation that takes trash, trash collection, trash disposal, and trash classification very seriously! In every German home you will find not one, but four trash cans. There is one for all recyclable paper. A separate recycling container is for materials like plastic, foil, and packaging. Another can exists, with a tightly sealed lid, for “bio.” Bio is all food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and plant material. Finally, there is a can for plain old junk. Oh, and glass? That's a whole "nother" topic! Germany
Failure to properly sort and deposit refuse is a serious offense. If nothing else, your neighbors will glare at you and speak angry words that I simply cannot understand! Trust me, I know! Just the other day my wife accidentally left the bio in a plastic bag, which deeply offended our neighbors, to the point that they left us a nasty note! I know, I know… we are stupid foreigners! We simply cannot apologize enough that fact!
We don’t take trash separation quite so seriously in the states. Maybe we should. The fact is, however, we don’t really care where it goes so long as it goes! In this sentiment, we are probably united with all modernized cultures. Few families would stand for allowing the trash to simply build up at the roadside. I mean, seriously, my trash reeks! Carrying my junk to the common trash bins is always a walk of shame! Did I mention it stinks?
We get rid of trash because it is an awful thing to keep around. What about spiritual trash? Are we as quick and desperate about cleaning that out? I think the opening quote about garbage collectors and preachers is really, more than anything, an indictment against bad preachers, spewing out bad theology, to a very sick people who allow the spiritual garbage to pile up at the door.
We carry around junk like the gospel of prosperity, that if I just have enough faith and give enough to the preacher, I’ll be blessed with wealth and success. Junk! We often view God as either a cosmic Santa who grants all our wishes if we are good little boys and girls, or as a Zeus-like tyrant throwing lightning bolts at all who displease him! Junk and junk! We put up with trashy ideas about church governance, giving all too much authority to those preachers—the good ones and the bad! Smelly junk! We subscribe to the attendance view of being a Christian, that as long as I show up at church and get counted, I’m somehow magically a disciple. That is not magically delicious, it is junk!
I could go on. You could fill in your own observations about junk. There are no shortages of examples of trashy theology. In fact, there is a gross pile of it that most of us allow in great heaps. We hang on to it and live with it, even though it stinks. It makes us sick, but we keep it right next to our precious and priceless treasures. We feel in our gut that it is not good for us, not right for us. Trust me, I know. I have my own little pile of filth! Maybe we all just need a well intentioned German neighbor to yell at us!