My household has a little piece of technological heaven known as a Roomba. Being the mother of a toddler and working as a pastor, I have a great need and not a lot of time to vacuum. The good people of iRobot solved this problem for me by inventing, and perfecting, a robot that vacuums even when I am out of the house. My Roomba looks like this:
(Image courtesy of john.whelans.net)
This short in stature, but powerful in capability robot is programmed to come on and vacuum the lower level of my house Monday through Friday at 10:00 AM. It runs for about two hours and then makes its way back to its docking station to charge for the next scheduled clean. It cleans under furniture and against the baseboards. Its collects all the little dust bunnies and debris that would be all over my house from daily living. They’re in a little bin in the back that I dump out each evening in the garbage. It’s great. So great in fact, that I don’t often have to think about it. I can still vacuum thoroughly over the weekend, but that isn’t even so bad because Roomba has been doing its job all week.
While I sound totally enraptured by my Roomba, and I admit that I am, I thought about how there seems to be this desire for a Roomba God. A God that works all week making my life better, so much so that I don’t really even have to think about it. Then, over the weekend, I can pay some attention to the dirtiness of my life long enough to tidy my soul up before leaving everything back into my Roomba God’s capable hands for the next week. I’m not even being facetious. Pay attention to how people describe what they want from Christianity, the relationship they would love to have with God. It’s alarming when you realize they want a robotic God who automatically just makes everything better while they’re busy living their life.
The problem is that God is not an automaton who acts in accordance to our whims. God could have made us that way, and graciously did not. The truth is that God is not willing to go behind us and clean up all our messes so we can continue to live the same way without having to bear the burden of cleaning up our own messes. My Roomba is happy to do that. Actually, it’s not happy to do anything, because it isn’t alive, but God is alive and expressive. God could simply make all our trouble, our sins, our dirtiness of living go away, but we would lose perspective and the opportunity for growth if God did that. In confronting our sins, the filth of our lives, we discover that we have been empowered by God to make change, to take control of our sinful desires and resist temptation. We have been given the gift of choice and the free will to exercise it. While God does not automatically clean up our mess, God is willing to work with us and be with us while we do it. Every time I have chosen to change my life for the better, to be more in accordance with the will of God, I have not done that alone. God has been with me, and even brought others by my side to support me, uphold me, and call me to account. Those are the periods of my life where I have grown the most, where I have seen that my life was radically changed for the better. Ironically, they are also the times of my life filled with joy, excitement, and a pervading sense of serenity. When you’re working with God and for God, even in the midst of trial and struggle, you find that faith gives you a sense of serenity. It confounds those who do not have it.
If you’re looking for a maid service Messiah, or a tidy up theology, Christianity is not going to work out for you. But if you want to serve a God that will gladly perfect you in love and lead you to others like you, then this just might fit the bill. I leave the cleaning of my floors to the Roomba, but my life I gave to Christ. I’ve never felt more clean.