Aluminum Cans - August 22, 2013
Titus 3:5 - He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
How many of us have ever given much thought to the aluminum can from which we enjoy a cold beverage? As with many things that are commonplace, most of us would take it for granted. Nonetheless, aluminum has become the standard for can making since the early 1960s when Alcoa patented their two piece design. While we may take it for granted, it certainly revolutionized the canning industry. As a youngster, I can remember my father opening a can of beer with a "church key" can opener. Of course this was a steel can and the predecessor to the aluminum can that would be fitted with pop tops. It did not take long for the steel can for soda pop and beer to totally disappear when the aluminum container became popularized. Today, steel can beverages are generally sold as novelties with aluminum cans commanding 99% of the market share.
Many of us through the years have found it convenient and responsible to recycle aluminum cans. There are a variety of reasons why redeeming aluminum is something most folks should consider. Some do it for conscience sake, others to make ends meet. Because of the varied reasons, every year since the 1960s, recyclable aluminum accounts for the most widely reclaimable item globally. Approximately 80 billion aluminum canned beverages are consumed annually. However, less than a third are recycled.
In many ways, aluminum cans are a wonderful metaphor for the human race. The can itself is basic and very much the same before its contents are added and its labeling applied. It generally takes 28 empty aluminum cans to make one pound, which equals 0.57 ounces per can. So, the dimensions and weight of a can is generic to its redeemable value. Of course, aluminum prices fluctuate as with any precious metal. Generally, a pound of aluminum cans go for around fifty cents. So, a safe estimate would be somewhere around two cents a can. (This is only an estimate for subsequent illustrations.) So, if we are comparing human beings to aluminum cans, we can make the comparison that generally we are made up of the same stuff, respectively. Skin color or any other genetic characteristic doesn't matter regarding the "container," as neither does the labeling on an aluminum can regarding its capacity to hold the liquid therein.
For the sake of illustration, I would divide the human race into four different analogous representations of four different beverages currently packaged in aluminum cans. They are as follows:
- Diet Soda - These are the folks who look really good on the outside, but have no substance inside whatsoever regarding the things of God. They are totally uninterested in anything that does not involve them in their present world. Many of these are atheists and agnostics. Just like many diet sodas, they have no calories (spiritual power) and no sodium (Jesus said we must be the salt of the earth). Subsequently, they often lack taste as diet soda. The "taste" they often leave is an aftertaste of unreality in regards to anything spiritual.
However, diet soda people can also be religious. They look good on the outside but they function from a place of non-reality. They have a form of godliness but deny its power (II Timothy 3:5).
SOLUTION: Empty oneself of apathy or religiosity, respectively. Through this humility, accept God's gracious gift of salvation and be filled with His Spirit.
- Soda - These are people who are who they are. They do not try to dress themselves up in any other fashion then what they suggest. They are basically good folks who might go to church on Easter and Christmas. They believe that if they are basically good throughout their lives, then they will get into heaven. As with regular soda, they are full of sugar and goodness that tastes good, but is still of no true value. Similarly, their good intentions and acts of kindness do not position them for heaven. They have deceived themselves that their "sweetness" will give them a good standing with God. However, we know from the Proverbs that there is a way that seems right to a man, yet that way is the road to hell and death (Proverbs 16:25).
SOLUTION: Empty oneself of supposed goodness and accept that no one is good except Jesus alone (Romans 3:10). Through this humility, accept God's gracious gift of salvation and be filled with His Spirit.
- Near Beer - These sort of people have just enough of the world in them and enough of what they think is goodness to often keep them from the Kingdom of God. Like near beer which has one half of one percent of alcohol, they believe they can still flirt with the world, and yet have favor with God. They vicariously live on the precipice of sin yet think they enjoy a spiritual relationship with God. After all, "One little sin isn't going to hurt?" Through this false comfort, they set themselves up to be eternally separated from God. They want to think they will make it to heaven yet live as they desire here on earth. In this regard, we see in scripture how they also profess to become wise, and yet become fools (Romans 1:22). God has turned them over in their thinking to believe their knowledge of God can save them in disregard to the relationship God's Son desires with them.
SOLUTION: Empty oneself of self-delusion and accept God's wisdom and His plan of salvation. Through this humility, accept God's gracious gift of salvation and be filled with His Spirit.
- Beer - In many ways, it is often better for a person to be symbolized as a can of beer than the other three. Someone who symbolizes a beer can is often a blatant sinner. They may or may not believe in God. Yet, Jesus tells us that He prefers we are either passionate for Him or blatant sinners because then He can speak to our hearts (Revelation 3:15-16). If we are lukewarm diet soda, soda, or near beer then it is often much harder for Him to get our attention. I, like some of you, were symbolic of a can of beer. We had to see how God wanted to empty us of ourselves and change our "label" on the outside for His glory. As our lead verse states, it was nothing we did but His great grace to bring us to the end of ourselves.
SOLUTION: Empty oneself, confessing our sin and graciously receiving God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In all the above instances, every person is redeemable no matter what particular aluminum can they symbolize. It makes no difference to the redemption center where we might bring our cans whether they are beer, near bear, soda, or diet soda cans. They are all worth the same. How much more is this illustration applicable to human beings? Unfortunately, just like the billions of canned beverages consumed annually, only a portion of these empty cans are redeemed. Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind. However, whether redemption actually takes place is whether we allow ourselves to first be emptied of ourselves and then redeemed. May we all allow the Great Redeemer to have His way with each and every one of us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming us through Your Son. Allow us all to humbly empty ourselves or ourselves. Then, fill us to overflowing with Your Spirit and allow us to live for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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