My wife and I are empty nesters and enjoy every minute we can find to be together. That includes a weekly trip to the grocery store. The other day, as we drove into the lot, we saw them -- shopping carts left here and there, nudged up against trees and against parking barriers. Shopping carts here and there. Simultaneously, we both exclaimed, "Look at that!" and then . . .
we realized that here was a Gospel illustration. Yes, in shopping carts.
First, here was the doctrine of sin in living color. What is so significant about shopping carts left all over the lot? Well, it is simple -- people will not walk the extra twenty feet to put them where they belong. Why? They are in a hurry. Their time is too valuable. That's what the store clerks are for. They will put it where it is safe but who says they have to go back into those little shopping cart corrals?
That, in the simplest, terms is a revelation of the pride, laziness, self-serving nature of our hearts. It is the doctrine of sin lived out. Its just a piece of fruit on a tree and I am hungry -- who is God to tell me I cannot eat it? Its just incense offered to God. I will come up with my own formula for incense that I life -- I will express myself in worship in a way that shows the true me. It's the ark of the covenant and the oxen stumbled -- I had to touch it to keep it safe. Surely God will understand. It's just a shopping cart -- surely you exaggerate the meaning of people not putting it away? No, I do not. All of the incidents I mentioned other than the shopping cart seem minor too -- and the perpetrators all died. Sin is sin.
Second, it reveals self-righteousness. That's what my wife and I heard in our comments -- "How can people be so lazy?", meaning, "I am not lazy and they are." The truth is that I am just as lazy but I am also self-righteous. I judge others and condemn myself for doing the same things.
Third, all that points to the need for a Savior. Our selfishness and arrogance show up everywhere. I am too important to have to take 32 seconds to return a shopping cart. Serve me, slave! Don't ask me to serve you. If sin is so pervasive in my soul, then surely a savior is required. I cannot save myself if my deepest and first instinct is to serve myself, not serve others. But Jesus came not to be served, but to serve -- he took no thought of himself though he was/is God. he laid down his life for us and would not even lay down our 30 seconds to return a shopping cart,