When you hear the word, “clog” what comes to your mind? Do you think of shoes? Zits from clogged pores? High blood pressure from clogged arteries? A few years ago, we had a clog in one of the drainpipes from our kitchen sink. We didn’t know about this clog until we ran the garbage disposal and the water backed up only to leak through the basement ceiling. Not only was this clog and experience unpleasant, but it was also expensive.
On the other hand, a cog is something that can be helpful to facilitate an action and outcome from work. A cog can be a small piece in big machinery, sometimes overlooked but nevertheless essential for the machinery to be effective.
In essence, a clog and a cog can be opposites. A clog can impede, and a cog can facilitate.
When I think about these simple but significant words, I’m reminded of some folk in the Bible when Jesus lived among us. Some of the key people that interacted with Jesus were the religious leaders in His day. In the Gospels, these people are identified as the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests, lawyers and elders. Generally, these people saw themselves as essential cogs to facilitate compliance with Jewish laws and, ultimately, God’s directives to mankind. In contrast, Jesus confronted these individuals as clogs to expressing God’s values and heart to connect with humanity. In the most positive light, these religious leaders saw themselves as proponents of godly living. In daily practicality, they were clogs who facilitated religious hypocrisy and usually succeeded in impeding people’s access and interactions with God.
Regardless of how the Jews perceived themselves, it’s essential to look at how Jesus saw these individuals. If you look at Jesus’ interactions with these individuals throughout the Gospels, almost all of His conversations with the Jewish leaders are hostile and combative, except for his conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in John 3. It seems to me that Jesus and these Jews had diametrically opposed perspectives on the cog versus clog outlook. The Jew leaders saw themselves as cogs for God’s law, and Jesus saw them as clogs for God connecting with humanity.
When I think about the Jews in Jesus’ day and His interactions with them, I can’t help but think of our modern religion and consider if we are being clogs or cogs for connecting people with Jesus. I absolutely recognize that God has set up parameters for healthy living, and we need to be mindful of godly living. At the same time, if our relationship and connection with God is more dependent on our compliance than God’s love, it’s possible that we might have some “clogged” thinking, similar to the mindset of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
In order to have more of a “cog” mindset, let’s swallow and live in the reality that God loves us, full stop. God’s love for us isn’t dependent nor controlled by our actions. God’s love for us stands steady and unchanging. In relation to being a cog, let’s remain committed to being receivers and conduits for God loving us and humanity. Let’s decide to be cogs more than clogs!