[Not to be confused with my November 21, 2016 Catch, “Swallow the bug” which was another angle on this same analogy.]
“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, but ourselves by our best intentions.”
– George W. Bush
We owe our analogy today to Gary, who sent this to me a week or so after the recent election. He used it to describe how he felt about his participation in it, but I have found it useful on far deeper levels.
Each and every night I drink about a liter of one part grape juice and two parts tonic water (with quinine). I have found that if I drink this stuff I don’t wake in the middle of the night with terrible leg cramps. Well tonight I’m drinking the stuff and I spot a little bug floating in the glass. I think, “Okay I am not going to waste any of my beloved drink.” So I am able to avoid sucking in the little bugger until there’s half a teaspoon left. Only then did it get tossed. Then it dawned on me: That’s how I came to my compromise in the election choice.
This is undoubtedly how many people felt and still feel about last November’s election. According to post-election statistics I’ve heard, up to 80% of the people who participated in this election did not like either one of the candidates, and abhorred the system that delivered these choices to them. They may have avoided the bug they felt was the worst choice for the nation, but what difference did that make in the end, when the bug was in the drink?
Now I look at this analogy and I see something profoundly human, especially in relation to pharisaical-type Christians who have a tendency to think that if they have been able to avoid certain sins, then they are somehow better than those who haven’t. It’s like the Pharisees who prided themselves in how they followed the law (only because they changed the law into something they could follow), and Jesus comes along and says, “Who cares if you avoid the bug? You drink the drink all the time, and the bug’s already contaminated the drink.”
It’s the difference between sinning and being sinful. When you focus on sins (the bugs) it’s easy to get nit-picky. Jesus said the Pharisees were always straining at gnats and swallowing camels. They were straining out the gnats while swallowing whole the much bigger sinful attitudes that made them sinners. He called them “whitewashed tombs” — clean on the outside, but inside full of dead men’s bones.
Some of you are like my wife who knows she’s a sinner. She never even tries to pick out the bugs. She just chug-a-lugs her bug drink because it’s part of being human. (We all have to drink it to stay alive; it’s who we are.) Others of you are like me: you spent a good deal of your life trying to be good, and are still trying to sip that drink slowly and carefully so as to avoid swallowing the bugs, because we somehow think we’re better if we don’t. Like the Pharisees, we strain out the bugs while we keep drinking the drink.
If we all would simply realize we are all sinners, we could more easily identify with and embrace our fellow human beings, and introduce them to Jesus, who not only took care of our sins on the cross, He got rid of our sinfulness too, and our new heavenly bodies will prove that.
This particular Catch is for all those people, including myself, who tend to focus on the bugs, when, in fact, we are all drinking the drink. Why focus on the sin (in comparison) when we’re all sinners? Why not focus on Jesus who got rid of both?