So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:7-8)
Go ahead. What was your gut reaction when you read the title of this entry?
"Wash your hands, you - what? Me? Why I never! The audacity of some people! How could she, in these current times, say something so deliberately insensitive..."
That'd be James for you; deliberately insensitive, unapologetically brazen, and emphatically impassioned about the faith.
When all of this started -- this, being the COVID 19 crisis -- we were initially told that if we were zealously diligent in our hygiene efforts we would be okay. Then we were asked to limit our gatherings; first from 250 to 100, 100 to 50, all the way down to ten. If there were no more than ten we'd be okay. Then we were mandated to self-isolate and socially distance ourselves from each other. No one leave your houses. The streets are unsafe! Did someone cough?? UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN! (Disclaimer: I am taking the whole situation very seriously. Not lightly at all. Just trying to escalate the timeline of events literarily.)
We have been reduced to a society of toilet paper mongering hermits, who cannot leave their homes due to the fear of disease. And unless you are an actual hermit full time, you are well aware of all of this because you have a pulse...and the internet.
So...now we are all home, with a few essential exceptions. Your yard has probably never looked better and the home improvement DIY projects you've been putting off are coming together. You're all caught up on school, sleep, work, Netflix, taxes, and anything else you've been too stretched thin to do. You're probably healthier than you've ever been because you take at least one walk a day for your sanity and there's no bread in the store so a Paleo diet is completely possible. We, as homebound members of society, are getting stuff DONE!
None of that has anything to do with our relationship with Christ. We are caught up on our worship of the god of busy. And guys, I work for the church, and I find myself at the altar of this other god. Somehow, we as believers, "wash our hands" on Sunday, and then turnaround less than 24 hours later, and offer up our time, our money, our families, and our very lives to another.
And in between hand-washings, we socially distance ourselves from the body of believers. Then we self-isolate ourselves from Christ, because...we are too busy.
Our loyalty is divided, like James says. And y'all, in the youth Sunday school class we're reading through the Old Testament...divided loyalties when it comes to God NEVER work out. Like ever.
So, yes, we are a society of governmentally mandated hermits forced to stand six feet apart in our own homes. However, maybe it's the perfect opportunity to "humble ourselves before God" and wash our hands.
Wash your hands, you sinner.
Now, read it with a southern-mama (or daddy) accent: "WASH. YOUR. HANDS. YOU, SINNER!"
Let us come near to God and he will draw near to us.
Lord, You are the one who laid the path for me even before I existed. There is no one greater, more powerful, more worthy of my time, energy, and devotion. I know that often I lose sight of that. I become so short-sighted and consumed with the things that I have to do and WANT to do that I neglect my relationship with you, Jesus. Father, help me to remember that you are the God who is sovereign over all things. That my time is your time. That all I have is because you gave it to me, FOR YOUR GLORY. Thank you for the reminder to "wash my hands", over and over and over again. You are merciful and good to remind me. Please, Father, never stop reminding me. Amen.
Here is a fun video of two Youth Pastors illustrating this same message: