“You put a good apple in with the bad apples and the good apple always becomes bad.” It’s true, if you don’t want to spoil the rest of your fruit, you remove the bad apple when its rottenness starts to ooze out of it before the rest of the fruit gets infected and start to go off early.
There were several occasions in my early teens when well-meaning people would take me aside and give me the ‘bad apple’ speech. My choice of people I hung out with was worrying to them. Responsible adults do that, right? They protect impressionable kids and teens away from others who could be a negative influence on them. Problem was that I liked the people I hung around with. I liked their honesty and how they challenged me. I liked that they didn’t hide behind mask pretending to be something they were not. I liked that they also accepted me for who I was with my mask off … which sometimes meant excessive talking about Jesus. These friends helped shape me by challenging me to live like I do. If I believed it, I needed to live it. If any of you are reading this, Thank you!
“I am the bad apple,” was my rebellious teenage response, “I have eternity inside of me and that is more powerful. They will become like me.” By that time in my life God had done some pretty crazy things and I was in the fanatical stage of faith that so many people enter when they have encounters with just how big, holy, powerful and loving God is. At least in the teen years we can explain this fanaticism away with developmental theories so that it doesn’t seem so weird – all teens are a little crazy. I kind of feel sorry for people when they encounter God in this way as adults as it is less easy to explain!! Friends tell me about falling in love (never done this yet) and how it makes you feel a little crazy at first and then softens into something deeper and lasting. I imagine this is similar to the experience of being completely overcome by God’s love – it completely upsets the normal order of functioning at first. You want to get to know him and learn all about him. What I read and experienced was that God was powerful, really powerful! There is nothing that can overcome him. And he is motivated by love. Jesus was not corrupted by all the people and situations he encountered, he transformed them. He was the bad apple. His very presence was enough to set people free and so he hung out with people who needed freedom.
I am reading through The Meaning in the Miracles and came across something that reminded me of the bad apple speech. Jeffrey John quotes Walter Wink: “Jesus is not rendered unclean by the contact; rather, those whom society regarded as defiled are made clean. Holiness, he saw was not something to be protected; rather it was God’s miraculous power of transformation. God’s holiness cannot be soiled; rather, it is a cleansing and healing agent.”
In order to become a really good ‘bad apple’, leading people to places of freedom, I need to pursue holiness. I need to chase it with all of who I am. The side benefit? I also find that the things that hold me in chains also break free resulting in hope, peace of mind, purpose in life, no guilt and feeling ridiculously loved. Win-win.