taking out the trash

by Pastor Doug Engel

I haven’t been to the municipal landfill lately. In fact, the last time I was there I was greeted by a bunch of noisy seagulls. Generally speaking, most people are aware of efforts by the town to minimize the amount of garbage that ends up there. Recycling and reducing waste have been major expenses for governments around the world, especially since 1987!

Do you remember what happened way back in 1987? The City of New York was running out of landfill space. After all, 16 million people can produce a lot of trash! Eventually the city signed an agreement to ship their garbage to Morehead City in North Carolina. Once there the plan was to convert the waste into methane. So on March 27th, tugboat, barge, and over 3,100 tons of trash headed for its new home.

Meanwhile, rumours spread that the bundles of trash contained contaminants from a local hospital and that these contaminants affected the whole load. The news media was attracted to the story like flies on ... (well, you get the idea). With all of the negative attention the mountain of garbage was refused at Moorhead City. Then port after port turned them away. They even tried to get relief from neighbouring countries to no avail.

What a terrible situation for the owner of the garbage (and the barge). The garbage was forced to stay out at sea until sometime in July. After all, they couldn’t do anything until the government had their say. When the hearings were finally over it was found that the garbage wasn’t contaminated after all. In October a Brooklyn company incinerated the trash and the 430 tons of ash were added to the landfill. The crisis was no more.

Our sin is like that load of trash looking for a home!

What can we do with it? We can’t go around carrying it with us all day. Besides, the Bible is really clear about sin and how it separates us from God. Listen to Isaiah. “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves we fade, wither, and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away” (Isa. 64:6).

Perhaps you’ve gone to port after port, and neighbouring countries, looking to get rid of your sin. The port of determination won’t take sin off your hands. The Apostle Paul attempted to dump his sin off at this port. It doesn’t work! “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!” (Rom. 7:19).

The port of denial certainly won’t take sin off your hands. The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The port of religion is unable to take care of your sin for you. Religion is all about earning God’s approval and once again Paul said releasing your sin is “not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it” (Eph. 2:9).

There’s only one place to take that load of sin, the foot of the cross! It’s the great exchange. You give Jesus your sin and he gives you his righteousness. As the hymn writer asks; “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power. Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” So take that trash to Jesus and your personal sin crisis will be no more.