Sweat stinks.  There is no way around it.  From the time you hit middle school until the time you die, sweat is one of your worst enemies.  The stains, the stink, the bees.  It’s a hot mess.  (Note:  That is possibly the worst joke I have ever made.)

Poll question:  What do you apply to your body to avoid the horrific aroma of sweat?  Chances are that 98% of you said deodorant.  Whatever the other 2% said, please say it from a distance.

One of the first awkward moments of my marriage was when I went grocery shopping and bought deodorant for my wife.  I knew it was the same brand I had seen her use, so I grabbed a stick and threw it in the buggy.  (Note:  Feel free to call it a “shopping cart,” but where I am from it’s a buggy.  Back off.) 

I didn’t think about the deodorant again until the next morning when she went to use it.  Apparently, there is fine print on each stick of deodorant.  By fine print, I mean bold letters under the brand name.  If the package did not say “Deodorant and Antiperspirant,” my wife refused to use it.  The stick I bought only said "deodorant."

I may be the only person in this boat, but it was a shock to me that those were two different things.  I had always assumed that "deodorant=antiperspirant."  Luckily, my wife was ready and willing to give me a very direct lesson on the difference.  Apparently, deodorant does nothing more than cancel out and cover up the smell of sweat, while antiperspirant prevents the sweat from ever making an appearance.  (Note:  I am still not convinced that this difference actually exists.  I believe it may just be a marketing ploy.)  (Note:  I think I just set a record for the number of “Notes” in one post.)

I believe that we live in an era of “deodorant Christianity.”  Instead of trying to help each other become pure and just by holding each other accountable, we come up with creative ways to cover up the stink of our sinful nature. 

Think about it.  When was the last time when you heard somebody stand up and confess their sins in public?  When was the last time you saw a fellow Christian directly confront the sinful behavior of another Christian?  Is that not what we are supposed to be doing? 

We are all called to be Christ-like; as sinless and full of love as possible.  But instead of going through the pain of such purification, we mask our faults and struggles so others will not know that we have fallen short of perfection. 

We have confidential giving statements, unspoken prayer requests, spectator-style worship services, prosperity gospels, secret internet lives, destructive sinful habits, and a mind-your-own-business mentality.  I’ll handle my relationship with God, you handle yours.  Let’s leave it at that.

How on earth can we read the Bible and come away with the conclusion that any of that is okay?  Jesus loved people enough to tell them when they were straying from the Way.  He called out the Pharisees, He turned over tables, and He cursed the fig tree for not producing fruit.  He pulled no punches.  He wanted people to be righteous and just.

The early churches literally pooled all of their money together and shared as they had need.  Paul’s letters are full of loving accountability to be sure that the churches were accurately following Christ’s teachings.  Many early Christians gave up their lives for their faith, and we are too proud and selfish to risk our comfort and reputations.

THIS is not the way we are commanded to live.  This is NOT the life of sacrifice and persecution we are called to.  This is not CHRISTIANITY.

Try and justify it however you want, but we are doing something wrong.  I pray that God will help me to be different.  I’ll pray for you, too.

thaddeus maximus king
4/25/2012 01:25:37 am

we are called to be a peculiar people.

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4/25/2012 09:46:23 am

So true... this is not Christianity, it's comfort! It is "deodorant Christianity". I really like this analogy. Well said!

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4/25/2012 10:49:09 am

Great blog Jamie!!

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Kevin Slemp
4/25/2012 11:14:30 am

Amen! You rocked it again, Jamie. I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as a guest a couple of years ago and it was amazing to listen to them openly share their struggles with each other. I kept thinking, "This is how church is supposed to be. How can we get there?"

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Amy
4/25/2012 01:12:54 pm

Hey Jamie! Great thoughts! :) I'm really grateful to be a part of a church where people share their real lives on a regular basis (redemption stories as part of the weekend services). And Redemption is meaningless if you aren't redeemed from something. Its rare to find a Christian place or group of people where shame is absent, and so sharing the reality of our lives feels safe. I think we should strive to help those around us feel safe to be real, by 1. suspending judgment and 2. going first. and maybe 3. choosing not to be offended by someone else's imperfect life (remembering that we are all on equal ground at the foot of the cross.) Jesus isn't surprised or offended by their failure, or our failure. He knew it was there when He picked the cross. He offers a way out on His back, not a wagging finger, and self-improvement list.

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6/22/2012 01:02:09 pm

First time reading this blog, just wanted to say hi.

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10/12/2013 11:01:34 am

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.

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