Monday, December 21, 2009

I've probably preached 20 sermons over the past 4 years. Though I love preaching, I'm already learning that some mean more to me than others. Shoot, I'm sure there's a couple I don't remember at all. But one I preached a year ago keeps coming back. It's left a mark on me. It was called 'Dirty'. It was a sermon based on reflections from the life of Christ, looking at the times he got 'dirty' in the New Testament. It stemmed from Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees in Mark 7:1-8, where the religious leaders questioned Jesus for not washing His hands (ceremonially) before He ate. Jesus rebuked them for having clean hands, but dirty hearts. As it turns out, it's not so bad to get a little dirty after all. In fact, in order to keep clean on the inside, we need to be willing to get dirty on the outside. Jesus wasn't afraid to get dirty.
  • He got dirty in Mark 1:40-41. In Jesus' time, the Jews believed that it made one unclean (spiritually dirty) to touch someone with leprosy. But Jesus healed a man with leprosy when He touched the man. Jesus could have healed a difference, but He didn't. He touched the man. As Walter Pink puts it, "The contagion of holiness overcame the contagion of uncleanliness." We get dirty in a good way by reaching out to heal others.
  • Jesus got dirty in John 8:1-11. Jesus rescued a woman caught in adultery from a group of men with a warped sense of justice, when He bent down, and wrote in the dust with his finger. Then he rose up and said, "If anyone is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." No one did. There's a lot to this episode, but we get dirty in a good way by protecting others from injustice.
  • Jesus even got dirty in John 13:1-8. It was His last night on earth. He was gathered with His disciples to celebrate the Passover meal before He would be betrayed, tortured, and crucified. Now it was customary for a host to provide water for guests to wash their feet upon entering the house. Sometimes, slaves would wash guests' feet (though Jewish slaves were exempt because the job was considered so low). Sometimes, in an extreme act of love and devotion, a disciple would wash the feet of his rabbi. But it was unheard of for a rabbi to wash his disciples' feet. Yet on this night, Jesus washed His disciples' feet. He got dirty. We get dirty, in a good way, when we serve others.
This has challenged me time and time again. Unless I'm willing to get a little dirty, I'm not really clean where it counts. Too often, I'm like Alexandra Rover in the movie Nim's Island.

Too often, I hide behind selfishness and fear of the 'unsanitary'. But I know I need to reach out and touch the world. It's time to get dirty.