(This blog was written by Alan Carlton) In the U.S., we have a near-phobia about dirt. Soap and cleaning supplies are huge sellers everywhere. Grocery stores, drug stores, specialty shops, Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart all have shelves full of an amazing array of such products. At Sam’s and Costco they are available in industrial size and strength.
In India as well, the quest for clean in never ending . . . yet dirt remains . . . everywhere. Women here may often be seen along the highways and byways sweeping the dirt clean with a sheaf of tiny bound sticks. They diligently sweep the streets and their property in this way . . . yet when they are finished, the dirt is still there . . . only pushed around and rearranged, with much on their neighbor’s property and less on their own.
The broom of choice, especially with the most stooped old women has no handle to allow them to stand erect. It’s just a tied bunch of brush.
The quest for clean carries over to clothes washing too. Every day, at all hours, women can be seen along rivers and canals beating the dirt out of their family’s garments. The people’s clothes usually look clean, especially the beautiful rainbow of saris worn by the women. They even wear these when working in the fields or when spreading dirt as part of a highway repair crew. Even though they appear clean, looking at all the filth and garbage on the banks of those same rivers and canals, you know much dirt must remain.
Jesus talked about dirt and uncleanness in Matthew when he said it wasn’t the dirt on the outside that was our problem. Instead, it’s the filth that remains in our hearts and comes out from us because we are sinful people. Soap can’t touch this dirt . . . even though some of us had our mouths washed out with soap as children in an effort to reach it. This was for things that we said using foul language.
Although our passion for soap, cleansers, dirt sweeping, clean clothes, clean houses, shampoo and Swifters has merit, it ignores our true problem. Falling moral standards, rampant immorality, foul entertainment, wars, greed, hypocrisy run amok, lying seen as simply normal behavior, alcohol and drug abuse . . . all these attest to the dirt within, yet few of us are really too worried about it. Instead, we largely just shake our heads, say “tsk tsk” and get along with our lives.
Only the blood of God’s innocent Son can clean this dirt . . . in India or in us. How many of us spend as much time telling others of this free miracle cleaner as we do telling someone about the newest laundry pods? We need to have a dirt phobia as Christians . . . just directed toward the right dirt.
India has more obvious physical dirt than most of us deal with on a daily basis. It is also a land filled with idols and spiritual foulness. In its midst, however, the church and many dedicated Christians are living and growing. Persecution surrounds and threatens them regularly. They need our help . . . both our physical and spiritual help… both our prayers and our fiscal help . . . both teaching such as Jerry’s and something from our checkbooks. They are filled with the love of Christ, but nearly all the Christians here are literally “dirt poor”. What do they lack? Everything except Christ’s love.
Ask God how you can help. Then listen . . . and act. Please. Alan Carlton
1 John 1: 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Take a moment to let God’s Spirit bring to mind any sin you have in your life. Confess it and turn from it. Take time to do a good soul-cleansing!