I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - a world away from rural America and the culture I now live in - Montana. There are many differences between eastern, city culture and western, rural culture. One of the main differences is pavement.
Our love affair with pavement on the east coast had left me totally ignorant of the concept of the mud room. After sixteen years (more accurately - sixteen spring seasons) I have learned plenty about this rural American phenomena.
And as I think about all of the nice houses I have been in I have come to a conclusion. The mud room is the least hospitable room in the house. There are shoes, boots, carharts, jackets, and yes mud all over the place. I pull my shoes off and get on out of that room as quickly as I can. Invariably, other people are also standing around trying to get their muddy shoes off and we are all bumping into each other and getting mud on each other - basically annoying the hell out of each other.
If you hang out for very long in the mud room you will notice that different people have different strategies for getting their muddy shoes or boots off. Some try to find a clean place to sit down, cleaning up a two foot square oasis of floor in which to deal with their muddy shoes without getting the rest of their clothes muddy. Some scrape as much mud off their shoes as they can onto the welcome mat and then continue into the house until the host politely asks them to remove their shoes.
My favorite method is the pogo stick. This is where we hop on one foot while trying to remove the shoe on the other foot and then repeat the process while trying to keep our sock out of the mud. I have seen some guests insist that they don't have any mud on their shoes at all. True or not, it's simple courtesy to take your shoes off in the mud room.
It's my contention that most Christian thought has spent all of its time in the mud room. We love to teach and talk about our battle with sin. We write books and hold seminars for the express purpose of dealing with all that is wrong in the world. Our fears revolve around moral failure, sexual deviancy and the polluting of our kids' minds.
If the kingdom of heaven was represented by a delightfully inviting mansion, filled with rooms for our care, our provision, and our intimacy with Jesus, it seems to me that the mud room, while necessary, would be the place I spent the least amount of time in. Why is the average Christian experience the exact opposite?
It's as if we think sin has more power than the cross. Maybe sin sticks better then forgiveness. If in Christ old things have passed away and all things have become new, if in Christ there is no condemnation at all, if God is not counting our sins against us, why do we spend so much time in the mud room?
Salvation, being born again, meeting Christ at the cross and trading him our sin for his righteousness is simply the entry point into the mansion. No one would want to live here, but we absolutely must pass through this room to enter the house. What would it be like if our books, our sermons, our conversations explored the rest of the house? What does the rest of the kingdom contain?
Remember, outside the kingdom when the unclean touches the clean, the clean is despoiled. But in Jesus, when he touches the dead man or the blind man or the man with leprosy they become clean. Why isn't this the experience of the average Christian? Maybe the answer is found in a different part of the house - outside of the mud room.
Just some stuff we should talk about.