One of the present day’s major problems is expressed by the one word, “litter”. The matter might well occupy our attention, for it is not only worldwide, but it has spiritual suggestions too.
It is so serious that it now forms a small part of the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Environment. Among many other things, he is concerned with litter and pollution, wherever they are to be found. We live in a very modern world, where we have air pollution, sea pollution, and because of our modern methods of transport we have noise pollution.
Let us see what we can make of it, for there are some lessons after all. What about the sign at seaside resorts and elsewhere that preaches to all and sundry with two words, “No litter”? That message is like the gospel; it is for everyone, no matter who they are. Yes, but what do we do with the empty paper bags and odd bits of sandwich papers and banana skins? They cannot be pushed behind a bush after a picnic tea. It is the sign “No litter” that prevents this.
The point is that we all have litter of one kind or another. Attics and spare rooms often hold large quantities of various descriptions, until someone says that they just do not know what to do with all the stuff that is littering up the place. So they send it to a jumble sale. Ships have a very convenient way of getting rid of their litter and polluting matter, for they simply send it overboard, and let it sink or float away, namely empty boxes, all the peelings and slops from the kitchens, with occasionally an old mattress, papers, bottles and damaged and unwanted suitcases.
Wherever you go, on land or sea, or ten thousand feet up in the air, litter and pollution follow human beings, and sin is just the same. No wonder God’s Word tells us that men are not as good looking as some people seem to think they are. Isaiah’s untouched photo taken in his vision, and presented in chapter 1. 5-6, is of Israel of old; but nevertheless it is a true portrait of us all before we knew the redeeming power of Christ, and the cleansing through His blood: “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and put-rifying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment”.
There is another sign we must talk about. Adding neither “please” nor “thank you” to what it says, it seems to point a finger, calling “Take your litter home with you”. Here you have a sign which is a good preacher, and you cannot mistake what it says. The trouble is that no one wants our litter, and we don’t want it ourselves. How like sin, however dressed up to hide its true identity! Who wants to take pride and jealousy, wrong thoughts and sometimes evil, and coldness of heart, as well as disobedience and other such kinds of litter with them? “Take it home with you” is the last thing we would want to do! The Home we are going to is wonderful beyond words to describe, such as the music in the Father’s house, where the notes are golden and the themes are always for the Saviour’s praise and honour. Not a litter box is to be seen there, nor the slightest sign of pollution of any kind. Litter, all useless and broken things, rubbish and pollution, could never enter these eternal dwellings. Nothing that offends or is ugly, like sin that pollutes the air, is ever to be seen in the land of fadeless day. Sin has been dealt with by our gracious Saviour on the cross, to the entire satisfaction of the eternal God. The air in the heavenly Home is both pure and invigorating, with scent of spikenard and fragrant flowers that befits the palace of the King. Pollution, sin and litter will never spoil heaven’s sweet abode, for as Revelation 21 tells us, such things, with death and sorrow, sadness and despair can never enter the Father’s house, for otherwise it would not be heaven at all. We shall share this golden prospect after we have waited a little while.