Finding Rot

I spent much of my July 4 holiday prepping decks for a new coat of stain. I thought I was ready to go – every thing pressure-washed, scraped, and dry. The paint was in the garage, along with brushes bristling to go. One more attack with the broom to get the pine needles off and I would be on the way. Aaaghh! Walking along the edge one of the floor boards cracked. Close inspection showed dry rot (which is actually more about being wet than being dry). And on closer inspection I found more than one board rotting … another 8-10 boards have to be replaced now. Another dozen have maybe another year and they’ll need to be replaced too. I guess it isn’t too bad when considering the decks are 20 years old. And as a percent of the 5 decks we have, it really isn’t all that much. But I’m guessing there is maybe more rot creeping in just under my ability to discern it.

What a great metaphor (or maybe not so great) for what every so often goes on in lives and organizations. Yes, even the church sometimes is affected. You know what I’m talking about. Things look really good on the surface. Just like paint can cover up the insidious rot on my decks, we can have all sorts of nice things on the outside of our lives. We can glibly talk our way through just about everything. The Bible verses are on the tip of our tongue. We’re busy with “God-stuff” and it is all veeery important stuff. People look up to us. And then …. something happens to expose weakness. Personal or institutional dry rot may have crept in. Hopefully we take note, take time to deal with it through repentance and taking steps to bring renewal. Unfortunately, all we sometimes do is paint over the rottenness so that it looks OK and maybe we can even forget it. However, dry rot just doesn’t go away. Without taking drastic action – probably time consuming action when we would rather be doing something else – rot will continue to spread and will eventually require drastic action when things begin to dramatically fall apart. I even found one church that had to tear down their building over dry rot.

Maybe this is why Paul calls on the community of Christians at Corinth to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV).

OK, my frustration with hours wasted on dry rot is appeased with this post. How about some of my readers adding their insights to “spiritual dry rot”?


2 responses to “Finding Rot

  • Glen Schaumloeffel

    Tim….great sermon illustration. Thanks!

  • Tim Jack

    As they like to say, I think it’ll preach someday. This is certainly one of issues that we have to guard against in the church. I think it might be a good topic for elders to think through on a retreat.

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