I know I make fun of my West Virginia upbringing but it is meant for humor and not to be seriously critical. Of course, WV isn’t known for being sophisticated or a hotbed of cultural innovation but there are some things that a simple approach to life helps us understand well. I especially appreciate the farm-life wisdom that puts things in a real and practical perspective and we have some to apply in this week’s reading. In 1 John we read “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.” 1 John 2:1 NLT
It’s clear that we shouldn’t sin but it’s also understood that at times we will. Some take this to mean that they can do whatever they want and God will forgive it all. This is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of being a follower and God’s grace. And here is where a simple farm analogy using pigs and sheep helps us. The nature of pigs is to live and love the mud. My grandfather raised hogs and they were the happiest when wallowing in the muck. Sheep are different. They prefer to stay out of the mud. Occasionally they will get mud on them but it is not their preferred environment. That is what John is describing as the difference between those who have accepted Jesus and others. Followers will get caught up in things God says to stay away from but when they realize it they come to God humbly and honestly so they can be washed and forgiven. 1 John 1:9 promises, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” This is a great encouragement and a promise to memorize. However, if we practice and enjoy the behaviors and attitudes that God says to avoid, and aren’t actively working to change, we are not demonstrating that we have truly accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. So the question is “am I wallowing or washing?”.