Cleanliness is next to Godliness….
so they say…..
I am sure many of us are familiar with the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” I heard my southern grandma say this a few times growing up. As well as, “remember, it is so much easier to pick up if everything has a place.” Cleanliness and orderliness in the home remain very important to my grandma and many of us.
In ancient Israel, cleanliness of home but also body, people, food, and place were extremely important, especially for those who were very religious.
In those days, Gentiles (non-Jewish people) were considered “unclean” by Jewish people because they did not live by the same cleanliness standards that Jewish people did.
In the book of Acts this becomes a problem because there were many Gentiles who heard the message of Jesus and believed it and it changed their lives but they did not follow all the rules of Judaism. These rules were not about basic cleanliness but how one prepares one’s food, what one eats, etc.
There was one man Cornelius who fit this description. Early Christians- who were also Jewish at the time did not know if he could be baptized or converted because he was a Gentile and did not share in all of the cleanliness practices.
Ultimately, God told Peter these words, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Cornelius was baptized later that day and one of the first Christians.
Today we do not have arguments about cleanliness but we do have questions about whether someone can be a “christian” or “pastor” or be “saved.”
MAYBE we have also questioned this about ourselves.
Some might ask….I have committed adultery…can I still be a Christian…does God still love me….
Some might ask….I have this disability….can I still serve? Does God still think God can use me?
Some might ask….I am gay…do I belong in the church? Does God still love me?
The answer to each of these is YES! God loves each of us and calls each of us, and in the times we need forgiveness, God forgives each of us and still wants to be our God and still wants us to serve.
In terms of making your bed, cleanliness may still be next to Godliness. Making your bed is a great way to start the day, care for yourself and put a bit of order in your life.
Yet, the past messiness of our lives, the labels people give to us, and the exclusions that people put on us DO NOT separate us from God!
Today, do not let your past tell you who you are and what God believes about you.
Today, do not let anyone tell you that you. do not belong in the church if you are LGBTQ.
Today, do not let anyone tell you that you cannot serve!
Today, do not let anyone tell you that due to the color of your skin you do not deserve something.
God has called each of us God’s children. God has called each of us clean….(even if you didn’t make your bed).
Today, let God’s unconditional love surround you, knowing that when you do a small piece of heaven is found here on earth.
See you on Sunday at St. John’s,