I warn you in advance. If you invite me to your home, and if I ask to use your restroom, don’t be surprised if after I’ve left, you discover that I’ve made a small change in your bathroom décor.
I have this thing about toilet paper.
I’ve taken many surveys in the past to prove my point, to show that my choice of the way toilet paper should be placed on the roll is the way chosen by all good and educated people, but more often than not, instead of the survey supporting my preference, it shows I’m in the minority.
But don’t think for a moment that I am swayed by those results. I just smugly assume that everyone who disagrees with me has yet to discover the obviously best method of toilet paper mounting (the paper coming from under the roll), and when I have the opportunity, I graciously reverse those rolls that have mistakenly been placed with the paper coming over the top.
Come on, folks, get on board!
It’s not that I would get in an argument with someone about the importance of toilet paper positioning. After all, it’s only toilet paper. But toilet paper installation is one of the many things that make up my long list of personal preferences that, if I’m not careful, can give root to an attitude of rightness, even self-righteousness, that feeds in me an unsympathetic and judgmental view of others. I see many, many things very differently from other people, and in most cases, that’s all it is – a difference of opinion. Wouldn’t it be a shame if that attitude prevented me from having relationships with people that could potentially be great friends, co-workers, or neighbors?
Our Christian faith can be like that. There are a few basics that I believe should be held onto without apology or compromise. For example, that Jesus is the only way to the Father and the only source of salvation. That he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for the sins of us all, rose from the grave and conquered death, and invites each person to admit to his or her unworthiness and begin a personal relationship with the Father through His son. Those to me are not personal preferences, but scriptural truths. But there are so many other things that fall into the toilet paper category. How we dress when we attend church. Hymns or contemporary music, or both. The translation of the Bible that we choose to read. Whether we sit on chairs or pews (all I know is that I prefer they be padded). Offerings in baskets, or plates, or bags, or envelopes. Sunday school, small group, cell groups, life groups. Sermons with jokes or sermons without. Big screens in the sanctuary or stained glass. One worship service or two, once a week or twice, or thrice, or more. Steeple or Touchdown Jesus. And the list goes on.
All of these are toilet paper.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like toilet paper, and I appreciate its importance, and I thoroughly enjoy its benefits, no matter how you decide to place it on the holder. And if you invite me to your home, and your Charmin is not placed in the way I prefer, even if I’m so bold as to change it, I will not stomp out of your house in a huff and refuse to be your friend. Relationships are too important to be damaged by those things that are indeed only personal choices or a matter of personal style. But I admit, I do struggle with that more than I like. And I’m trying not to be a toilet paper snob.
So I guess my challenge for all of us is two-fold:
Determine those things that are an essential part of your faith-belief system, and once God has convinced you that they are according to His Word and His heart and mind, hold them tightly.
Determine those things that are religious toilet paper. And flush them.
In the meantime, please pray for me that when I get to Heaven, and when I use the Royal Flush for the first time, and I look on the pearl wall beside me and see that I was right all along – I won’t gloat.