Contrary to popular belief, a color war is more than just fun mixed with brightly colored powder.
For those of you who don't know, participating in a color war not only guarantees immense amounts of enjoyment but also a rainbow-tinted coating of somewhat stubborn colored powder (corn starch and flour dyed with food coloring). My high school had a color war yesterday, and it did not disappoint, though my feet were still slightly blue today as I walked into church, and I did not particularly want to lead worship with blue feet and one pink ear. I talked to others who had attended the event as well, and they seemed to have a similar problem ridding their skin and clothing of the stuff.
The saga continues today, as I'm still finding powder in my ears, in my bathroom, and on articles of clothing taken to the wash. I even struggled to carry my Chacos out to my porch because they were so caked with powder that any slight movement would trigger an avalanche of neon messiness, and I have yet to unpack the bag containing my t-shirt and shorts.
Our secret (and oftentimes public) sins are pretty difficult to remove on our own accord, especially when they're piled on top of each other and left to stain our souls ever-darker. Walking into church sometimes feels futile because we are so broken, and it seems like the impressions left on us by our inevitable sins are immovable, so we are ashamed, even reluctant, to walk into so sacred a building as church. We are ashamed to stand before the heavenly throne of God as the messy, ugly, and dirty human beings that we are.
Often, this results in neglect of our sins. We become so ashamed of the dirt and grime that cakes our souls that we try to hide it. We just leave it to ruminate and become more pressing while we attempt to ignore it because we think that will be the final solution to our problem of sin. We think that hiding the sin will reduce the shame of the sin, and that is simply not true. In the book The Picture of Dorian Gray, the main character Dorian Gray owns a once-beautiful self-portrait painted for him by a friend, but his outward sins have transferred into deformities and imperfections on the painting. Eventually, the painting becomes so ugly and undesirable that Gray stores it away in his attic and simply goes on about his life full of sin and deception, even resorting to drugs at one point. In the end, he sees the finished work of the despicable painting, and it disturbs him to his very core. He stabs the painting with a knife, resulting in his own death.
Sin, and later the ignorance of sin, led to Dorian Gray's death, and this is characteristic of sins in the non-fiction world as well.
Not only does the shame brought on those (even those who have been assured of their cleansing by the blood of Christ) who are broken (hint: that's every single person who has ever existed except Christ) often cause them to neglect confronting that sin, but it also causes a desire for and an ease of surrender to more sin.
At the beginning of the color wars, I was tasked with filling bags with colored powder of each color in preparation for various events. I began with orange, and naturally my palms looked as if I had just gotten a bad spray tan. My shirt was slightly tinted, but the powder dusted right off. Then, as I moved to yellow and then blue, I noticed the hue of my skin was darkening and darkening. By the time the games were ready to begin, my hands were almost blackened, and my shirt had a plethora of colors already on it, removing the original purity of the crisp white tee. The beauty was gone once the colors had all been tested, and it took a lot of scrubbing to rid my palms of the black mixture of colors.
Sin almost completely loses its appeal once it begins to pile up on us, but we feel as if we must continue in it in order to hide it. We feel like, if we keep on sinning to cover up past sins, eventually everything will just disappear. Even if we know that all sins, big and small, remain with us without the cleaning power of Jesus's redeeming blood, it is incredibly easy to fall into the snares that are constantly thrown at us.
"Just come to the party! Your parents will never know."
"One drink isn't going to hurt you!"
"Come on! Don't you love me? It doesn't matter if you go a little further."
"It's only a couple dollars, just take it."
"Drugs make you feel amazing. Just try it! You can always stop if you don't like it."
"You've already gotten this far. If you quit now you'll just be a loser!"
Those snares entice us until we give in, and then we have the option of opting out (the right option) or continuing. Most commonly, sins are used to try and cover other sins, and that is ultimately going to be unfruitful and just hurt you even more.
My ultimate objective in this color war, as I told one of my friends, was not even for our senior class to win any competitions. My goal was to get as colorful as possible. I ran right into the action and got a small burst of excitement each time I saw my once-white shirt stained with yet another bright hue. But I knew I could go right home and wash it all clean. I knew that, come Sunday, I'd be clean and prepped for church, like nothing ever happened.
The point of the grace of God is not to make it your ultimate goal to sin as much as possible now because you know that God will save you from it when you ask Him. It is true that the blood of Christ washes you clean from your sins, but there has to be a heart change as well. True Christians feel something after they sin. They know they'll be sinners until the day they die, but they also know that it is not right, and they are focused on putting off sins that they notice themselves committing, not just sitting in them. Don't get covered in sin because you know that once the fun is over you can wash it all away and restart the cycle.
This post is in no way supposed to make color wars sound sinful (I realized about halfway through that this post is not very generous to the event used as a metaphor. I promise they are worth the mess!). The point of this post is not to criminalize color wars in themselves. The point is to stress how broken we are and how much we need to realize our sins and ask God to rid us of them. However, becoming more like Christ (a process called sanctification) is not only a God thing. Sanctification is a cooperation between God and man, so in order to become more like Christ, we must make an effort to eradicate acts that displease God from our lives.
So, next time you walk into church (or decide to skip it), ashamed by the sins you feel are so obvious to everyone around you, know that you are loved. God knows that we are imperfect, and He meets us in our brokenness and messiness, willing and ready to carry us back to a relationship with Him. You just have to be willing to yield yourself to Him and trust that He has your best interest in mind. He is not judgmental of those things of which you are ashamed as long as you knowingly admit that those things are things that are, in fact, shameful. He loves, plain and simple.