High Maintenance Christianity: Renewal by 'Exfoliation'
- Eva Marie Everson
- 2003 9 Dec
I confess. Until I was in my thirties I had absolutely no idea what exfoliation was. Not a clue…until the day I sat on the tub’s ledge of a friend’s bathroom while she sat on the floor—legs crossed, under-the-sink cabinet doors opened wide, and her head stuck deep within its caverns. Suddenly my headless/armless pal drew her whole torso out, holding up a half-filled clear tube with large green writing on it. “You ever tried this?” she asked.
“Tried what?” I asked, already shaking my head, no.
I narrowed my eyes. What in the world was… “No.”
She threw the tube at me and I caught it easily. “Here you go,” she said. “Try this and tell me how wonderful your skin feels afterward.”
The Body Beautiful/Physical
My lifestyle of regular exfoliation began with one try. After my first scrub (performed in the shower), my skin took on a healthy radiance. It felt smooth to the touch and younger somehow. As if the old me had been washed off my body and had gone down the drain.
"But doesn’t skin naturally slough off?" you ask.
Yes, but it’s a slow process and one you would typically be unaware of. Your body is crying out for assistance in this and the call must be reckoned with. “Off with those dead cells,” it shouts. “I wanna glow!”
While some people have exfoliation done professionally (either because they can afford to or because of medical conditions such as acne), one can do them easily at home (unless you have ultra sensitive skin, thin skin (from age), or some form of skin
condition). The results will be healthier, smoother skin, an increase in the its ability to absorb moisture, muscle tone, new cell growth, and a reduction in those wonderful fine lines we find distinguishing on a man but aging on a woman.
A trip to your favorite department store cosmetic counter or any store that sells cosmetics and toiletries (such as Target, WalMart, Walgreens, Eckerds, CVS, etc.) will have you ready to scrub off those dead cells in no time.
What you need: A Soft Washcloth, Exfoliation Mitt or Brush, Buff Puff, or Loofah. Or, if you are so inclined, you may purchase an at-home exfoliation system. Scrub of your choice (Look for those with round beads rather than rough granules as the former is gentler on the skin). You don’t have to spend a lot of money. St. Ives products are both inexpensive and effective as are many others.
Side Note: Nancy Stafford, actress and Christian author & speaker, has sensitive skin, so when it comes to exfoliation, she must be careful about what she uses. She says, “I only use a scrub when I’m really flaky and my skin feels rough and looks dull. Then, I use Francis Denny’s Sweep Away for Sensitive Skin.”
The Body Beautiful/Spiritual
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
Last week we talked about being “washed clean.” The miraculous thing about being “washed in the blood of the Lamb,” is that all the old sins that at one time covered our souls in filth, are forever washed away. This is not to say we cannot commit new sin or that we suddenly become sinless. On the contrary; as Christians we must constantly rid ourselves of old habits, much like the old dead cells that want to build up on our physical bodies.
In the New American Standard Bible, Ephesians 4:17ff is headed as The Christian’s Walk. The NIV heads it with Living as Children of Light and the New King James Version titles it The New Man. Interesting titles, especially considering that Paul focuses on those things which occur when we live the sinner’s life, live as children of darkness and as the old man. Read carefully what Paul so vehemently warns against:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin"; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Living as the Gentiles means “living as pagans.” Before we came to Christ we were pagans. The “futility of their thinking” is described in the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon as being “devoid of truth and appropriateness.” Just as skin dies, becomes calloused or hardened so do the hearts of pagans. Our previous lives are ugly to look at, certainly ugly to remember.
But, Paul essentially says that you decided you didn’t want to live this way. You decided you wanted to exfoliate! Read these words again: You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…”
Notice that Paul said, “which is being corrupted.” Even as believers, it’s easy to become hard again, to find our spiritual skin needing a good exfoliation. We are not immune from temptation. Living in the world (not of the world, but in it) we attract so many of its impurities.
So then, how do we exfoliate spiritually? Look again at what Paul wrote:
1. Do not let your heart be hardened (calloused).
2. Do not lose all sensitivity (to the knowledge given by the Spirit).
3. Do not give yourself over to sensuality (lust, immorality, etc.).
4. Do put off falsehood (conscious and intentional lies).
5. Speak truthfully.
6. In your anger, do not sin.
7. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
8. Do not give the devil a foothold (an opportunity to suck you back into his death web).
9. Do not steal; instead find something useful for your hands to do.
10. Do not speak unwholesomely (watch those words!).
11. Do speak words that will build up.
12. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (by being inconsistent with your testimony).
13. Get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (You may want to read over that list again…).
14. Be kind and compassionate.
15. Forgive others as Christ forgave you (“Even those who hurt me really bad?” You ask. Yeah…even those.).
In Colossians 3, Paul wrote another list of “rules for holy living.” We are to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things and put to death (exfoliate!) whatever belongs to our earthly natures. Examples Paul gives are sexual immorality, impurity, lust, desires and greed, which is idolatry. (vs. 5). In 3: 9,10 Paul reiterates a common theme: …you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
There’s nothing better than being “scrubbed clean” by taking on the person of Christ. By being in His Word, lifting up praise and worship to His Name, and making determined decisions to live “as children of the Light,” we become renewed. The Holy Spirit gently takes away all those nasties we seem to attract, scrubbing us until we are fresh and clean, feeling renewed once again! Being one with Christ, we GLOW!
Questions for Personal of Group Study
1. Do you exfoliate your skin? How often?
2. How does physical exfoliation make your skin feel?
3. In what ways can you, personally, spiritually exfoliate?
4. Take a look at the lists Paul gives. What areas of your spiritual body need exfoliating the most?
5. How do you feel after having been “scrubbed clean” by the Lord?
Editor’s Note: Last week’s High Maintenance Christianity column contained a passage from Scripture noted as Psalm 71:7. It should have read Psalm 51:7.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and the recently released and highly anticipated Shadows of Light (Barbour Publishing). She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com
Other Articles in this Series:
High Maintenance Christianity: Being "Washed Clean"
High Maintenance Christianity