Did your parents ever say to you, "Don't let the Cimex lectularius bite!"
Did your parents ever say to you, "Don't let the Cimex lectularius bite!" Probably not. After all, a bed bug is just a bed bug, isn't it? Not to the federal government that convened this week in Arlington, Virginia, the first-ever National Bed Bug Summit! Topics included: "Bed Bug Perspectives," "Bed Bug Basics," and "Government Response to Bed Bugs." Never mind the Somali pirates and the Afghan terrorists—apparently we're under a bed bug attack! But why all this fuss about an insect barely the size of an apple seed with a painless bite and not known to spread disease? Because it appears that though eradicated fifty years ago, the little parasite is making a debut reentry into American life. CBS radio reported this week on a New York apartment dweller who was so overrun by bedbugs he hauled his mattress out on the side walk and burned it! Tenement houses, high rise apartments—apparently these itchy, scratchy blood-sucking pests are no respecters of persons, wealth or domiciles. And they're back with a vengeance! Reminds me of another species of small, pesky, life-sucking pests—who also hide from the light and come out in the dark—and who, too, can go weeks, even months, without attacking us, only to return eventually to penetrate their miserable way back under our skin. Who doesn’t know the scratchy, painful discomfort of tiny little sins? Not the big ones, mind you—the ones that are duly castigated in our proper, spiritual circles. I’m thinking of the small sins, those some call "venial," the moral bed bugs that we can’t quite seem to eradicate: gossip, criticism, prejudice, envy, impatience, intemperance, unkindness, shadiness, stinginess, thoughtlessness, two-facedness. Ironic, isn't it, that the longest list is for our "smallest" sins (if any sin can be called small)? But, as the proverb observes, it is "the little foxes that spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15), the little bed bugs that infect our lives. So how can we fumigate our souls of these vexing parasites? Wikipedia recommends the application of hot water (120 degrees F) to the bed bug bite for relief from the itching pain. The gospel remedy for sins—both small and great—is the application of Christ's Calvary sacrifice to the infected heart: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Divine pardon for our sins comes instantly when we ask him (I John 1:9). Divine power over our sins comes over a lifetime as we keep on beholding him, God's Lamb who died to take away our sins (Heb 12:1, 2). For it is in that beholding—that looking to Jesus day after day in the gospel story of Scripture—that we are imperceptibly but surely transformed by his Spirit into his likeness (II Cor 3:18). Good news (bad news) for all our afflicting "bed bugs"—heaven's Orkin Man is on our side! And because of his friendship, we don’t have to let the bed bugs bite.