Most of the time the only passenger who travels in my car is Jack the dog. As a result I am not too fussed with the state of the interior. However, on Tuesday I was to drive to Oxford with two fellow church staff members – both female. I sat in the car the day before and took in the sights and smells. Damp dog, dirty carpets, cluttered dash. The possibility of sister-shame motivated me to hoover the car, remove the dog’s towel, my wellies and other offensive items. Dashboard polish was splashed, a new air freshener installed, and the interior given a thorough spring-clean.
Feeling good about my chivalry I readied myself to bask in the gratitude of my passengers come the next day. Then – disaster! One cancelled due to illness and the other changed her travel plans. I was crestfallen. Come Tuesday morning I sat in the car once again and took in the now transformed sights and smells. The initial feeling was one of annoyance – all that work had been for nothing. Then a strange feeling crept over me. What was it? A cocktail of satisfaction, well-being and pride with a dash of optimism. The drive to Oxford was in the sunshine – literally and figuratively, and the car seemed to drive better. Odd that.
Inner cleanliness is something we all need. Jesus made that clear to the Pharisees, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:25–26 NIV11-GK). Jesus makes us clean, and that is something to celebrate, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22 NIV11-GK). This cleanness is something more than a bath. It touches the inner parts of the conscience, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death”, and it has a purpose, “so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14 NIV11-GK)
I drive with joy when my car is clean. I live with joy when my conscience is clean. When was the last time you did a conscience spring-clean? It may be hard work, and there may be no one else around to notice other than you & God, but it will be a sunshine day.