Why Sunburns Are Actually Pretty Cool

IMG_5429With the July 4th weekend approaching the summer beach and pool season is in full swing. Which means for some of us the summer sunburn season is in full effect.

No matter how much I guard myself, no matter how high the SPF on my sunscreen is, no matter how many times I reapply, I can’t escape the summer without at least one nasty sunburn.

All you fair-skinned folks out there can relate. We don’t tan. We burn.

And any of us who’ve ever had to make an emergency run to the drug store to buy aloe can attest to how quickly a sunburn can ruin a summer trip.

But as this video explains, the cool thing about sunburns is that they allow you to see your immune system in action:

A sunburn occurs when the intense light and heat from the sun kills skin cells. Our immune system then detects the dead cells and sends a rush of blood to the infected area, bringing in white blood cells to clean up the debris.

The redness and heat in the skin is the result of the increased blood flow to the affected area. The old dead skin then begins to peel away and after a few days things are back to normal.

Though it’s a painful process a sunburn is necessary to remove the dead and worthless pieces of our skin we have damaged.

Now, of course, I’m not advocating for anyone to go out and get a sunburn. I do however think the sunburn process is a pretty neat metaphor for the way God removes the dead and worthless pieces of our life.

In Colossians 3 Paul writes about the process of becoming dead to sin and alive in Christ. He speaks of killing off everything connected with that old way of living – lust, impurity, irritability, profanity, meanness, etc.

These aren’t easy things to rid our lives of. In fact it’s quite painful to exorcise these demons from our everyday lifestyle.

To do so we have to let Jesus come in and do some painful work. We must allow the Son to enter into our heart, burn away all that is dead and worthless, and replace it with a new skin.

Yes, I’m saying to truly become dead to sin and alive in Christ we must experience a “Son burn”.


Now, before you offer me the Pulitzer Prize for my witty analogy, let me take it one step further.

I think the “Son burn” analogy works pretty well for people like me who suffer the sun’s damage every year.

But while my fair-skinned brothers and sisters out there are setting timers to reapply their sunblock every 15 minutes, some people out there rarely worry about UV rays. Whatever sun hits their skin instantly turns to bronze.

What about these people in life who always get tan?

Scientifically some people are just born this way. They have an increased level of melanin in their skin passed on from generations before them.

These lucky souls simply process sunlight in a more favorable way than others.

You might say the same thing about people in a spiritual sense.

Some people in life continually experience the “Son burn”, riding spiritual highs where the Lord rids them of sin and momentarily they are renewed.

Yet after a few days these people lose sight of God and find themselves exposed to sin yet again, forgetting to protect themselves in God’s word. Then they must go through the painful process once again of removing the dead and worthless skin of sin from their lives.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Instead, there are some people out there who let God “tan” their lives.

These are the people who expose themselves to the Son each and every day. Because of their constant exposure to the “Son’s rays”, their skin becomes accustomed to the light He offers and their lives experience a deep transformation from it.

Keeping this “spiritual tan” is a daily process just like any other tan. It goes away if you don’t continually expose yourself to the Son. And sometimes no matter how tan your spiritual skin is is you can still get burnt, fall into sin and have to go through the painful process of removing the dead skin from your life.

But if you let God kill the dead cells inside of you, and expose yourself to His light more and more each day you will find your spiritual skin growing stronger.

Though some of us in life will never experience the beauty of bronzed skin, the good news no matter what skin tone you have in life anyone can achieve a “spiritual tan.”

You have to embrace the pain of the “Son burn” at first. Just remember the burning is actually a healing a process. Then your “Son burn” will actually feel pretty cool.

On this long weekend, take a moment to look at your spiritual skin. Are you someone who is always getting burnt, experiencing spiritual highs but continually falling into the same traps of sin? Or is your spiritual skin tanning? Are you going deeper in your relationship with God and getting stronger in your faith?


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