I don’t like graffiti.
It seems that you can’t go anywhere anymore without finding the walls of public places covered in this version of modern art. Now I will agree that some of it is quite tastefully done, and some of the artists obviously have quite a bit of talent. Nonetheless, I don’t like how it defaces the surfaces it covers, and therefore you can understand that after seeing multiple examples of graffiti throughout the Thousand Islands region of New York and Ontario, I was quite relieved to see one public surface that was not covered in this modern form of art…
In the tiny town of Marmora, situated on the banks of the Crowe River in south-eastern Ontario, there lie the remnants of a church. We learned from locals that it was built over 100 years ago, that it was the first church to be built in Marmora, and that the building project was “multi-denominational”. Over the years, a number of different denominations have apparently worshiped there at different times, and when each group outgrew the building and built a larger church in town, this original Marmora church went on to become home to a different denomination. I do not know how long the church has lain in ruins, but there is one remaining wall that stands, and on that wall a cross has been painted.
Although I found all of this history fascinating, it was the wall that caught and held my attention. It wasn’t so much the fact that there was a cross on it, for if I hadn’t later seen a picture of it, I wouldn’t have even remembered the cross. It was, rather, what was not on that wall that amazed me: it was not covered in Graffiti!
I have no idea how it came to be that this ruined wall of St. Matilda’s Church had not been defaced. It is completely unprotected in a place where few people ever go. It would seem to me to be a perfect graffiti-artist’s canvas; yet there it was, clean and undisturbed…
It all made me think…
Each of our hearts is like an unprotected public wall. We would all love for that “wall” to be covered by beautiful things such as the cross on the remaining wall of St. Matilda’s church; yet so often, our hearts become covered with “spiritual graffiti”.
Let’s let Paul explain what I mean by this. His term for “spiritual graffiti” is “Acts of the flesh”, and He describes them as such: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Gal. 5:19-21a NIV). Just like I would like for all public walls to be free of graffiti, Paul warns that we should keep our hearts clean of these “acts of the flesh”: “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:22b NIV).
Paul then goes on to describe how our hearts should be decorated: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 NIV).
The difference in these two types of “heart decor” lies in which of two sources we allow to “paint” and “draw” on our hearts. The first source is the devil and his minions. They like nothing more than to cover our hearts with their “spiritual graffiti”, and if left unprotected, our hearts become open prey to the “acts of the flesh”. The second “artist” is God’s Spirit, and the “fruit of the Spirit” grow in our hearts as a direct result Him being invited in and allowed to dwell there.
Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as simply “choosing” who will paint the canvas of our hearts. Remember that without adequate protection, there is virtually no public surface that is not at risk of becoming covered in graffiti. In the same way, without proper protection, the spiritual “graffiti artists” will move in.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I don’t know how the remaining wall at St. Matilda’s Church has been protected from graffiti, but I know how we can protect our characters from the defacing, defaming “graffiti” of the devil: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1 NIV). When we spend time in the Word of God, when we spend time in the presence of the Lord, when we allow His Spirit to reign in our hearts, then the “walls” of our hearts will be cleansed of the “spiritual graffiti” and covered instead with the fruit of the Spirit.
I don’t know about you, but that remaining wall of St. Matilda’s Church in Marmora was a lot more appealing than the graffiti-covered public surfaces we saw in other places. In the same way, the more God’s Spirit replaces the “acts of the flesh” with His good Spiritual Fruit, the more our own hearts begin to look more appealing…
Will you be like the majority of public surfaces, covered in “spiritual graffiti”? Or will you stand, beautiful and strong, like the remaining wall of St. Matilda’s Church?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.