“One of the consequences of our culture’s slide away from the true faith has been a marked rise in Christians making their peace with various forms of uncleanliness — in food prep, in personal hygiene, with tattoos, in dumping litter, in sexual practices, or how they keep their living rooms and yards. “
One my good buddies Nick Smith (Pastor of Nampa United Reformed Church) gets a hat tip for pointing me to Wilson’s post, “Jesus. Reason. Soap.” The quote above comes from Wilson’s post.
Ouch, but he’s right. Part of the creation mandate was to cultivate, and I would say beautify or maintain the beauty of creation. Because of sin, creation has been affected, but it still retains much majesty and glory. Part of the Mosaic law spoke to matters of hygiene, what to do with one’s body, etc, for the intention of separating Israel from the nations in their lifestyle. While I am not advocating that we keep the ceremonial law, it is important for us to note that Christ fulfilled the law…He was a lamb without spot or blemish. He was pure. He was clean.
Christ seeks to restore beauty in our lives, both inward and outward as part of His redemptive work in our lives. While the ceremonial law no longer applies, the substance of it still speaks to us…that we should cultivate a clean and beautiful life. It was to mark Israel as distinctly clean and beautiful. We also are to be marked off in such a way that our lives proclaim to the nations that our Lord is beautiful, that His ways are good. The way we dress, the way we eat, the way we host guests, all of these things matter. The Proverbs 31 woman beautifies her surroundings because she has a beautiful heart. Her husband and children are blessed because of her. Paul also said that outward training has some value and that we do need to tend inwardly first, but Paul didn’t say that tending outwardly was on no value, just puts it in its proper perspective.
Now I realize that the Gospel has yet to penetrate certain areas of my own life and duties to cultivate a beautiful abode. I need to get a weed-whacker, among other things, and tidy up a bit better around the yard. But this is something we Christians need to embrace as part of our sanctification…it is not merely a matter of “good manners” (take it or leave it). Just because we are not under the ceremonial law does not mean we should revel in not brushing our teeth, chewing with open mouths, treat growing weeds in our yard with cavalier dismissal, not wash our hands, and sneeze over the dinner table. Honestly, does your neighbor really want to hear about Jesus when you allow weeds on the border of your yard to infect his side, when you have chaotic kids who show no neighborly respect, when you let your trash fly all over the place, when you prepare them dinner with hands you just sneezed on and failed to wash, and when you also ask to borrow toilet paper and milk because of your neglect?
Wilson considers the hypocrisy among the “green” crowd:
There is frequently an inverse relationship between how clean the environmentalist wants the mountain streams to be and how clean the environmentalist himself is. I went to one of the very first environmental “teach-ins” at Ann Arbor, and walking out of the coliseum afterwards I was struck by how trashed the place was.
As Christians, we can truly offer an alternative in showing that we beautify the world by beginning with our own lives, our own families, our own homes, and then perhaps people will see the beauty of the Lord in how we live our lives. It is not enough to spent “quiet time” with our Lord in prayer and Bible reading and then live like a complete slob. While it is crucial that you maintain inner beauty, I am just convinced that it will show itself in outer beauty as well. Our Gospel needs to be bigger and penetrate more pervasively than it has. I am not advocating high culture in an inaccessible fashion, but rather saying that there are many ways we can move beyond “white trash” culture. Many ways.
© 2010, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.