The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Friday, October 3, 2003


My life seems to revolve around the issue of poop lately. The doctors and nurses are all quite interested in it. They anticipate it, analyze it, measure it, time it, and are even willing to clean up accidents with it. At first I was even embarrassed to speak of it with them. I have now become somewhat desensitized to the existence of poop. Yet I still have concluded that dealing with poop is near the bottom of human existence.

As a Christian, I naturally ask if Scripture has anything to say about poop. Some might laugh at such a thought, but remarkably the Bible does address the topic. While the majority of clean-cut Christians would not mention such topics, the Bible indeed deals at this level of reality without such avoidance.

Of the many places where the Bible addresses the topic of poop, one particularly interesting place is in the New Testament book of Philipians, where Paul writes,

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish [may be trans. "poop"], that I may gain Christ� I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings�

I really admire the Apostle Paul. He likes to tell things how they are. Direct. No candy-coating. I think he came from Philadelphia. The word that he uses here is only found in this verse in the whole of the New Testament. It is likely an expletive, but is rendered by the euphemistic �dung� or �rubbish� in English translations. Paul says, in effect, �Look, everything I have in life I consider to be at the level of poop compared with knowing Christ and his resurrection.� He puts it on the line. Life ain�t worth poop without knowing Christ and his resurrection. The more I personally have to deal with poop, the more clearly I understand this passage - an unexpected advantage to having colon cancer.
When the church has strayed from its fundamental elements -- Christ and his resurrection -- it has by definition ceased being the church. Sometimes it has become oppressive, sometimes it gets caught up in endless political battles, and sometimes it has become simply a bland institution of nothingness with marshmallow smiles pasted on the faces of its members.
It has become commonplace in segments of mainstream Protestantism and elsewhere to push aside the person of Christ and particularly the event of his resurrection. Now, mind you, such leaders are usually careful enough not to outright deny it. But they will at least discount it as irrelevant in practice. As long as you find community, as long as your kids have a place to learn right from wrong, as long as you have a support structure to help you through suffering, as long as you are nice to everybody and they are nice to you, as long as you have faith (no matter who or what it is in), then the church is considered a good thing. It doesn�t matter whether or not God revealed himself in Christ or whether or not he raised him from the dead. I like to imagine Paul�s response to such lines of thinking. I think it is safe to make an educated guess as to what he might say: �that�s a bunch of poop�. It may be appealing to the masses, but it is not historic Christianity. Call it �religion� if you want. Call it �country club living� if you want. Call it �hypocrisy� if you want. But don�t call it authentic Christianity.
As I continue to have areas of my life stripped away during this time of suffering, I am afforded the opportunity to observe my life more clearly. Things around me become less and less important in the final perspective: my dreams, my finances, my career, the consumer goods I�ve collected, my house, my reputation. Most all that is left is the reality of my Creator and his revelation to humankind in the person of Jesus. Aside from this, I have concluded that my life has little meaning. Aside from Christ, my life really is a pile of poop.


Dan & Syd Christen said...

Isn,t it amazing how things are put in perspective ?

Byron Black said...

You lay it on the line in, as usual, a poetic and elegant way. I love the way you put your thoughts down.
I'm probably preaching to the choir -- But, I'm so glad to know you. You, marvelously created in the Image of God Himself, are an encouragement to me.
Yes, reputation, things, cars, achievements at work, even our health---is a meaningless pile of poop -except when we know Jesus. All that other stuff really is poop compared to being know by Him, and compared to getting to know him. In fact, and I hesitate to say this knowing my own minor experiences of suffering -- mostly self-inflicted, compared to yours and Christine's are like a vapor.... Yet... Somehow, in a way not yet known, you and Christine will be taking this to comfort others with that same comfort you are recieving from the Holy Spirit and from the body of CHrist.
Yet, when you strip all the 'trapings' and so-called 'civilized niceties' away --- You do have Jesus. ...and maybe, as we all journey to that spot, we'll see that is really more than we ever needed. At least, that is my hope for me and my family and for you and Christine. Your suffering is on our hearts and minds, and is painful and we want to somehow share it. How do we do that in an email? I wish we could come see you.
Thanks so much for sharing -- we continue to pray for you and Christine -- Be of good cheer, you do have Jesus because Jesus has you.

John Ciavola said...

poop indeed

Denise Rebetsky said...

Thanks, Greg....I really enjoyed your biblical musings!

John Ciavola said...

poop on, brother.

Madeleine R said...

Regarding your dissertation on poop ~ Well said!! We bring nothing into this world, we take nothing with us when we leave. How we respond, by the grace of God, to the Gospel of Christ, (in all it's ramifications, applications, etc.) is ALL that will matter. Standing clothed in the righteousness of Christ, or in filthy rags, before the throne of God is the central issue. Nothing else will matter. AND taking this message of salvation to the world and bringing God glory is what we're still here for. You have done well to speak from the place where the Lord has you, Greg. May His name be praised. May we who read this all be inspired to do the same.