Friday, July 17, 2009

i'd rather be a sieve

A popular word picture in Christian circles is the vessel. We're jars/vases/cups/vessels made to hold God's love inside of us. God pours in until we're full and tops us off if we get a little low, like a waitress walking past booths with a coffee pot. (Only I bet God doesn't wear orthopedic shoes or an apron.)

The trouble with this vessel talk is the implication that God's love has a limit--it pours until you're "full." If it gets out? You're "empty." Consequently, I believe a lot of Christians run around hogging God's love inside of them, clinging to His grace, mercy and peace with fear that it might get out and they'll somehow lose it. And this fear? Leads to some pretty embarrassing self-righteous behavior--by hogging all that love, we seal ourselves off from other people. And this self-righteous behavior? Makes evangelical Christians a pretty unpalatable bunch--hateful, spiteful, mean-spirited and angry. Ask anyone, they don't like the evangelical crowd.

Yeah, the whole vessel thing just isn't working for me. I'd rather be a sieve. I believe God's love is limitless, it'll keep pouring over me--but more importantly--if I'm a sieve it'll pour through me. It'll wash over other people right out of me. And as that love pours over and through me, it'll wash away my impurities (of which there are several, including a propensity for pride and cussing and lusting after Colin Firth) because a sieve has holes through which all these things can pass.

Jesus was pretty straight up about what He wants of us. When asked what the most important commandment is (John 12:30-31), He answered "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself." This commandment lends itself quite nicely to being a sieve instead of a vessel. We're supposed to be outward focused--not inward focused. More Mother Theresa, less Phyllis Schlafly.

I'm aspiring to sieve-hood.


  1. Amen. I just had a similar conversation with a friend last week. My point was that human beings make Christianity entirely too complicated. It's really a simple concept (as you stated) yet we add a bunch of rules, judgments and interpretations that really go against the essence of God and being Christ-like.

  2. I love that post!

    If I only was a sieve - I'd be friendly, fair and forgiving - If I only was a sieve.

    The Wizard of Oz is one of my fav stories ;) Guess I think in terms of the scarecrow.

  3. Very nice! Love the idea of being a "sieve". :-)

  4. Beautifully profound. I am proud to call you my friend.

  5. you know how sometimes you read a post and it was exactly what you needed right at that moment?

    that was me reading your post. thank you so much. i needed this. needed this perspective.

    trying to be a sieve....

  6. This is so timely. I had a conversation with someone yesterday who spoke so authoritatively about what God wants. About what is true and what is not true. About who is right and who is wrong. But none of the talk had an ounce of compassion in it. For many Christians, true love only exists inside their own little self-congratulatory circle.

  7. Back in my Hippie days, I had a poster that said...
    The LOVE in your heart wasn't put there to stay. LOVE isn't LOVE til you give it away.

    I also love that you are a sieve.

  8. "They went to sea in a sieve, they did, in a sieve they went to sea! ....And when the Sieve turned round and round,
    And every one cried, 'You'll all be drowned!'
    They called aloud, 'Our Sieve ain't big,
    But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
    In a Sieve we'll go to sea!'"

    (Edward Lear, of course)

  9. I love this! I'm not nearly sieve-ish enough! Great food for though.

  10. A vessel is meant to be a useful tool--- much like a sieve. Such was never intended for cold storage.

  11. God may not wear orthopedic shoes, but for sure he has a pair of runners and rubber boots, should the occasion arise.

  12. Can I call you colander, then?

    I just posted something that involves our Dear Colin in Full Brood.

    Thank you, btw, for making Christianity palatable for me.

  13. I love the sieve image. What a great post!


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