External cleansing does not change our heart! People may think twice about committing adultery, but would be appalled by the thought of not taking a bath afterwards. Stealing is a minor matter, but they are dismayed when a dog licks it. They have rules on how to cleanse one's nose, how to cleanse oneself, which animals to avoid, and rituals that will restore their acceptance. Culture teaches that certain things are emotionally repulsive - disgusting - and it is not easy to tell these people that they are harmless.
The purity of Jesus is contagious
The Bible has a lot to say about ritual purity. External rituals can make people clean on the outside, as we read in Hebrews 9,13, but only Jesus can cleanse us on the inside. Imagine a dark room for visual representation. Put a light in there and the whole room will be filled with light - "healed" from its darkness. Similarly, God comes into human flesh in the form of Jesus to purify us from within. Ritual impurity is generally considered contagious - if you touch someone who is impure, you also become impure. But for Jesus it worked in the opposite direction: His purity was infectious, just as the light pushed back the darkness. Jesus could touch leper and instead of being infected, he healed and cleaned them. He does the same with us - he removes the ritual and moral dirt from our lives. When Jesus touches us, we are forever morally and ritually pure. Baptism is a ritual that symbolizes this fact - it is a ritual that occurs once in a lifetime.
New in Christ
In a culture focused on ritual impurity, people are hopelessly unable to solve their problems. Is not that also true of a culture that focuses on making life worthwhile through materialism and selfish endeavor? Only by grace can people be saved in every culture - the grace of God by sending His Son to counter pollution with an almighty cleanser, and to bring us true fulfillment through the power of His love. We can lead people to the Redeemer, who cleanses and loves them. He himself has overcome death, the means which causes the greatest destruction. And he is risen, thereby crowning human life with eternal meaning and peace.
- For people who feel dirty, Jesus offers cleaning.
- For people who feel shame, he offers honor.
- For those who feel that they have a debt to pay, he offers forgiveness. For people who feel alienated, he offers reconciliation.
- For people who feel enslaved, he offers freedom.
- For those who feel that they do not belong, he offers adoption into his abiding family.
- For those who feel tired, he offers peace.
- For those who are full of worry, he offers peace.
Rituals only offer the necessity of their constant repetition. Materialism offers only the strong desire for more. Do you know someone who needs Christ? Is there anything that you can do in this regard? That's something worth pondering.
by Joseph Tkach