I vividly remember the heavy haze of blue smoke enveloping me when I was a child at most social gatherings involving adults. I was, and still am, sensitive to smoke of any kind. Both my parents were heavy smokers. However, it was not until I moved away from home that I discovered the insidious nature of cigarette smoke. Every time I visited my parent’s home, the stench was an assault on my senses. Smoke clung to my hair, clothing, skin and even my breath. I tried to keep smoke out of my zipped suitcases but the odour would wind its way through the fabric.
On one visit home, a neighbour noticed my watery eyes, occasional cough and my gravelly voice. She understood my plight as a fellow nonsmoker. Even though it was winter in Alberta, we escaped for some fresh air on my parent’s back porch. As we chatted about neighbourhood news, she shared a tip. She didn’t allow her aversion to cigarette smoke to curb her interaction with her friends and family members who were smokers. However, as soon as she returned home from a large gathering, she would shower and run her clothes through the laundry. She’d hang clothes that couldn’t be laundered on her clothesline. I chuckled, I was not the only one who used such strategies to rid myself of the damage done by second-hand smoke.
Contrary to some beliefs, Jesus calls us to go out into the world. We cannot isolate ourselves just to keep ourselves uncontaminated from that world. We are to be God’s hands and feet. God leads us to people who mire themselves in the muck of their life choices. He calls us to do so without judgment or fear.
Jesus embraced the leper and touched the unclean. That touch not only healed their physical affliction, but it also healed their emotional wounds. Lepers and those deemed unclean by the religious powers-that-be in Jesus’ time were isolated and marginalised. Societal constraints forced families to send those afflicted to the outskirts of town. The lack of affectionate touch and family bonding would have left its toll.
Jesus calls us to lovingly embrace the lepers of our day; the sexually broken, the poor, addicts, and the isolated. He sends us to those who long for connection as they hide behind their perfectly crafted facades of normalcy. As we obey the Lord’s promptings and venture out, we will carry back the residue or dust of where we walked.
There is no need to fear the dust of the day. Jesus invites us to draw close to him. When we do so, he washes away any dirt that clings to us in the same way he washed the grime from the feet of His disciples.
Mark 6:30-31 – “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
John 13:3-10 – “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean”
Walk in obedience toward those the Lord has called you to love unconditionally, Without the fear of being defiled, you will be less apt to judge others under the cloak of being discerning. Are there so-called Christian superstitions that you are clinging to that are holding you back? Ask the Lord to shine a spotlight on any smidgen of a religious mindset that would pull you away from those who need the touch of the Master.
Is there a certain segment of society you avoid because you are afraid of what others might think if you are seen with them? Repent of secret judgments you might hold against that segment of society and those who judge them.
While we are called to ‘be not of this world’, we are not to sequester ourselves from the world. How does that work, practically speaking? There are ways you can keep your heart pure that don’t involve building a wall between yourself and unbelievers.
A quick disclaimer. Are you a recovering addict or someone who has recently left a damaging lifestyle? Consult with your support network before attempting to reach out to those who are still involved with your former lifestyle or addiction. Humility and transparency are your safety gear in such a situation.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
2019 Katherine Walden
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