The Pickled Truth

by APC on March 21, 2018

When I was young, my family would pile in our van at 4:00am, and buckle in to endure a 14-hour road trip to the beach. We had assigned seats in the van, which everyone occupied, except for when we ate lunch. My Mother moved to my seat to dole out the food, and to supervise my two younger sisters in their eating rituals. And, this meant that I got to ride in the front seat with Dad.

We’d pick up McDonald’s because it was cheap, and we’d all eat cheeseburgers. During consumption of said cheeseburger, I was able to keep all crumbs in the wrapper (as letting one loose in the van was a federal offense) as well as condiments alike, except for one thing: the pickle.

My Dad would instruct me to “bite down hard,” so I would get the cheeseburger and pickle in my mouth. But, somehow my bite-depth was always miscalculated. When I pulled the cheeseburger away from my mouth, the pickle appeared—dangling from my lips. And, soon from my lips to my white shirt it went.

I was left to wear a red and yellow stain on my white shirt like a badge of shame for the remainder of the day. But, soon my shirt would take an expedition through the laundry, and that spot was no match for my Mother’s stain-fighting superpower. My white shirt would be returned to me to wear again another day, fresh, clean, and white.

…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25–27, KJV).

On the days when I didn’t have a pickle-stain on my shirt, I was often told how nice I looked. I’d glow and thank the person for their compliment. As I child, I had a misconception that the white shirt I wore was of my own doing. I’d take credit for keeping it clean—well, maybe that day, as long as I stayed away from the pickles.

When I think about our Savior, Jesus Christ, He died so we could be washed in His precious blood. Any stain—pickle or otherwise—we have on our clothes, is washed away, and we’re left clean and white. Then, when Jesus presents Himself a glorious church, we’ll show up with a spotless apparel, and be told we’ve done a good job keeping our garments clean.

It’s easy for us to look in the mirror and think we’re responsible for the whiteness of our garb. As I grew older and learned to keep food in my mouth when I ate, it was very easy for me to lose sight of who’s credit that accomplishment really went to: my parents. It was their instruction and responsibility in training me up to help me learn how to properly feed myself, and to save my clothing from imminent pickle-stains.

Similarly, we must remember Jesus Christ is the One who took ownership of our sin. He took responsibility for keeping us clean and white. When we’re baptized in the name of Jesus we become clean from sin, and every time we spot our garments afterward, we plead the blood and become white again. But, it’s all by His doing, His effort, and His sacrifice.

And, in the end time, when He says, “well done thy good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), we cannot think—praise God, I did it, I made it. We cannot take the credit. Jesus is the One who does our loads of sin-stained laundry every day we live. That garment without spot or blemish is because of Him—not us.

Lord, I pray we can remember who keeps us clean today and every day. You’ve eradicated every trace of our pickled-stains and made us as white as snow. Thank you, Jesus, for Your blood and Your sacrifice. To God be all the glory, honor, and praise. Amen.