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Come clean with God as he draws near

Come clean with God as he draws near

Come clean with God as he draws near

14 December 2020

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Photo: Brandon Jarman

By Rachael Farthing

2020 has been ‘uncomfortable’ in so many ways. Isolation from our loved ones. Social distancing from others. Avoiding people like the plague. That feeling that we might make someone sick if we breathe in their direction! COVID-19 has been weird. It’s created a social barrier that we must not cross. If you’re ‘unclean’, stay home!

While it’s been foreign to me, this isn’t entirely new. This idea of clean and unclean is a familiar theme in the Bible. If you were religiously sinful, or physically sick, you were considered ‘unclean’, and you had to keep your distance! It was socially unacceptable for you to mix with holy or well people. You had to ‘self-isolate’.

Sound familiar?

There’s a story where an ‘unclean’ man comes to Jesus for help. This man has an “impure spirit”. He leads a tortured life and lives in the tombs, where he is isolated from his community. Despite the social expectation, he rushes to Jesus and falls at his feet. But Jesus doesn’t distance himself from this man. Jesus engages with him, up close and personal.

In the chaos, pain, confusion and sometimes loneliness of this year, I have been encouraged by the knowledge that God does not self-isolate. He doesn’t keep his distance.

The story of Christmas is this very thing. To a world that was ‘unclean’, God came close. God, who is ‘clean’, came close in the person of Jesus. He got right up in the face of our brokenness and our sin and our disease. Mask off! And he loved us. He lived with us. He embraced us. I marvel at this.

Early on in lockdown, I was asked to take some supplies to a person who had been tested for coronavirus and was self-isolating. I was a little afraid, to be honest. I didn’t want to get too close, in case I picked up germs that I might take home to my family. So I didn’t even ring the doorbell. I dropped the grocery bags at the door to their apartment and ran! I did send a text to let them know to grab the toilet paper before it got stolen!

God hasn’t behaved this way! He doesn’t consider his own wellbeing; he knocks on the doors and heads right on in.

In the story of Christmas, we see God completely disobeying the ‘rules’ so that we can receive his peace, his love, his forgiveness, his ‘clean-ness’. So that we can know we are never alone. Christmas celebrates God with us.

Captain Rachael Farthing is Corps Officer at The Salvation Army Tenterfield (NSW)


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