A Theology of Trash; or Why the Lot of the True Believer is so Low
A while back, I read the story of top leadership at a prominent Christian school in the Midwest. A whistleblower exposed some inconsistencies. She promised to expose more, so the top people stepped down.
This storyline happens on occasion. Hence, we are reminded: there is a day of audit in accounting and a day of judgment with God (2 Cor 5:10; 1 Thess 4:13–5:11; Rev 19:11–21; 20:11).
Because God loves His children, He disciplines them (Heb 12:6). This is never pleasant, but it is an aspect of our suffering. Christians are redeemed in order to be sculpted into conformity with Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). The standard is perfect, and it comes with the impetus to, “be perfect (Rom 12:2; Gal 3:3; Phil 1:6; 3:12).” The process can be very painful.
God retrieves us from the rubbish heap of the world, but His restoration of us takes place in the midst of the original dump site. He is making us new on location. His actual removal of us from this loath-some place was determined before creation (Acts 2:23; Eph 1:4–5), but only He knows the appointed day of each one’s departure (Ps 90:12). Until that day, sufferings are ordered.
The eternal decree of our salvation includes the process of sanctification (Jn 17:17; Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 4:3, 7; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). Sanctification is God’s will for saved sinners to be set apart (1 Pet 1:16), just as recycled garbage is given a new life by setting it apart from the rest of the garbage heading for the incinerator.
So the Christian lot is reworked in this world while the others are left to lay at rest, in wait of their removal to their final destination.
A recycled item of trash begins its new life by being crushed and compacted. Once it is broken down to its core elements, having lost its previous form, it is then washed before being remolded into its new form.
The Christian is crushed, compacted, broken down, washed, as a precursor to remolding, too. This is your life, brethren!
Just as certain trash is chosen for recycling, not incineration, by the site manager, so it is with God. He chooses which is which.
The impurities found in the human soul and body warrant our position in the squalor of this world. Our lot is low. Still, the redeemed Christian is lower, here, because of the predetermined course of reconstruction ordered by God.
Trash is trash, and we are all trash. Some trash rests in wait (unredeemed), while other trash is redeemed and reworked here and now. Imagine the resting trash watching the recycled trash get crushed, compacted, etc. “Gee, too bad for that lot. It looks rather painful,” says the trash at rest, “so happy to be better than them.” By the way, this is known as, “trash talking (pun intended).”
Pride is an untenable spirit for trash, and yet, this is prevalent amidst a people unaware of their lot in life. “Bob, someday they are going to take you to the incinerator.” Bob replies, “Yes, but look at my certificate of accomplishment and my participation trophy.” Bob is blind to his condition, even though he is at relative rest, compared with his poor Christian neighbor, who has been subjected to this new rigor.
It is the born again believer who has been given eyes to see that he himself is trash (Gen 6:5; Is 64:6; Jer 17:9; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12, 23; 6:23; 8:7). He acknowledges it. He confesses it in sad humiliation. His lot is low, and he knows it.
Pride, amongst other sins, is removed from the Christian through ordered processes of suffering and loss. The Christian is losing his life in this world. His prideful identity has been trashed, and any vestiges of former glory must be demolished.
Where there is no hope for trash, resting in wait of removal for incineration, there is hope for recycled trash. The unregenerate waits for destruction (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7; Eph 2:12), while the regenerated (new life) Christian suffers reconfiguration in hope (Col 1:27; 2:13).
Recycled trash is processed to be a brand new product, while the Christian is processed (sanctification) for a glorious, new and eternal life, as a new creation in Christ (Jn 10:10; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Jn 5:11–13). What more, then, can be said in this realm of trash theology, but…
“Be ye recycled.”
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 16, 2022