A Little Less Vinegar, Please—REPOST

This post originally appeared on 1/18/11, but seems appropriate based upon what I have seen/heard the last couple of weeks.  It doesn’t hurt to have another look.

My dad knew that something was wrong when he arrived home from work to find all of our furniture in the yard. All of our clothes were out there, as well. I guess the couch, love-seat, recliner, and all of our mattresses kept him from noticing much else.  This happened well before cell phones and my dad couldn’t receive phone calls while on the job. Coming home from work every day was kind of lake having a surprise party especially for him. Not all surprises are good surprises.

It was sort of amazing, really.  My mom had accomplished this feat by herself and we lived in a two-story, split-foyer house. No, she’s not a bodybuilder or a superhero; she has never turned green or owned an invisible jet. She was just mad.  Finding out that her kids have lice can apparently inject a woman with super-strength along with a helping of insanity.

Yes, my brother and I had lice. No, we weren’t street urchins who went out everyday picking pockets and climbing through the sewer system. I’m guessing that’s what my mom was afraid people would think. She was filled with indignation and determination. The lice had to be eradicated and she couldn’t wait for anyone’s help to begin the process. So she grabbed up our furniture like a fistful of legos and carried it all outside to be sprayed and aired out. But that wasn’t all.

She began calling people on the phone to find out how to treat our hair; this is what people did before they could look everything up on the internets. And for things of this nature, you would call the oldest person that you know. Old people and home remedies go together like honey mustard and broccoli. Honey mustard and broccoli don’t go together?!?! You must be one of those weird people who actually like broccoli, or you don’t have a wife that makes you eat it. Trust me–it’s good. Not really, but it does lubricate the broccoli with enough taste to allow passage down my throat.

The old person told her that washing our hair in vinegar would kill the existing lice and prevent any more of them from wanting to take up residence on our scalp.  Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Here is what’s worse: my mom never does anything half-way. Nosiree. This is why my ugly brother and I took a bath in vinegar.

That’s right, a full-body vinegar bath. My mom filled the tub up with the vile liquid and told us to strip down and sit in it. We were compliant children who generally did everything asked of us, most of the time without complaint. This wasn’t one of those times. We whined, complained, and begged; it did no good. Vinegar had worked for mom’s elderly advisor so it would work for us. And she didn’t want to take any chances. If washing our hair in vinegar was good, making us bathe in it was better.

As a result, the lice left and never came back. And I hate the smell of vinegar. A little bit would not have turned me against it altogether, but a lot caused me to despise everything about it from that moment on. I’m afraid my mom isn’t the only one who has used too much vinegar. I’m afraid that the Church has done the same thing. Not with real vinegar, but with words that taste like vinegar to the soul.

We have done a good job of telling the world what we are against, but sometimes doing a good job at something is a bad thing. Instead of proclaiming the graceful truth about Jesus, we have fallen into the seductive trap of declaring what is wrong with the world and everyone in it.  We have become efficient at enumerating the sins, calling them out by name. We aren’t so good at showing the Savior’s love through word and deed.

All of this vinegar has caused us to stink. All of this vitriol has caused many to flee.

Sin still needs to be called out, but the vinegar must be mixed with love and grace. It is the sweet savor of Christ that should be most prominent, even if that is not the way the older folks used to do it.

(Have you been exposed to too much vinegar lately? Have you taken steps to counteract it? Share away!)

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11 thoughts on “A Little Less Vinegar, Please—REPOST

  1. I’m amazed of the sour lives of many Christians…aren’t we the free ones? The ones with the Good News? Lord, help us to be salt and light…not leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.

    Thanks for reposting bro’

    • Yes, we’re supposed to be the freed ones.

      Sadly, too many of us are still trying to get rid of our own vinegar smells that seem to linger even after being washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

      Oh, if parents only knew the damage they do. (I can’t say “we” here because I have no kids. They scare the dill — to continue the food misuse metaphor — out of me.)

      Oh, if we only knew the damage we do.

  2. Matt,

    Well.

    I read and re-read this post to make sure I was “getting” it. I got it.

    I appreciate your drive and desire to walk in His graceful ways. I applaud them, actually.

    But I am the vinegar; you’re the salt. I am the cayenne; you’re the vanilla. I’m the slap; you’re the extended hand.

    Interesting, really. I do not flee from our respective positions and callings within The Invisible Church. You reach out, it seems, specifically to the lost. I tend to take them once they are saved and do what I can to initiate them. I like it.

    You have patience for The World. I tolerate The World. You say “Please” and I say “Now”. But still….both of us calling ourselves as Christians. One body, many parts.

    I enjoy your stuff, Matt. You write unlike anyone else I follow.

  3. I’ll bet you’re not big on coloring Easter eggs.

    Excellent analogy and example of overkill.

    People once thought honey would do the trick, too.

    I used to work in public health, and we’ve had our personal run-ins with head lice as well. Nobody is immune. Now we know to be firm but not freak out. 😉

    I want to be more like honey than vinegar.

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