After a long, hard day of dealing with bosses, co-workers, traffic, children, etc., many of us come home feeling tired. We feel the film of the world around us on our bodies. Some of us start to itch. Any human being knows what it feels like to want a clean body. When we clean ourselves, some of us pay attention to detail, others do not. We are soft or rough as needed. Sometimes we get out without rinsing something off and have to go back in. Whether we groom ourselves too much, a little bit, or just right, we all have the same feeling when we leave the shower or tub. We reward ourselves with a sigh of relief, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
There are so many cleaning rituals and routines. You could have candles, incense, music, lights on, lights off, etc. Each of us has a unique way that we clean ourselves. The ambiance, the job itself and the aftermath differ from person to person. One thing we all have in common is that our best cleaning is done when we bathe alone. It is maintenance and ownership of the body.
As Christians, we have a spirit, soul and body to groom. When many of us approach the daunting task of spiritual cleansing, we don’t know where to start. Thinking of sanctification as a spiritual bath helps a lot.
So how do you take a spiritual bath?
Go somewhere you can be alone. We separate ourselves from the world to clean our bodies, so why not separate ourselves from the world to clean our spirits? If you want to multi-task you can clean the inner and outer part of you at once!
Take your time. You don’t take a bath towel, lather it and wash your whole body in one swoop. You focus on one body part at a time until it’s clean and you move on. Do the same with your spirit. Take one part of your heart, one issue at a time, and with God’s help get that one clean. Then move on to the next thing you want to improve.
Lather. See yourself with honesty. All of the cares of this world can leave our hearts and minds covered in a thick film of despair. It itches too. The thoughts we don’t want pop up, linger, and the answer seems just out of reach. Not to worry! Break it down bit by bit, ask yourself questions, and follow through to the answers that God gives you. Why do I do this? What joy do I get from it? Why did this happen? What can be learned? How could God be at work here? Find the most prevalent word in your mind, see if you can find it in the back of the Bible and let God lead you to the scripture that gives you a paradigm shift.
Inspect yourself and know where you end and where sin begins. While washing you may say, “Where did that bump come from?” “Is that dirt or a birthmark?” As GLBT Christians we hear people asking us to wash off our birthmarks all the time. We must know the difference between dirt and a birthmark, and wash off what is supposed to be washed away, and keep the marks we were born with.
Rinse. Open yourself to God’s forgiveness, follow His example and forgive yourself. You don’t blame your body for being too greasy, and you shouldn’t blame your spirit for caked up sin. Guilt and shame is not required to be holy. Repentance is. Repentance is making a U-turn in the street and going the other way. Remember that Jesus’ blood is the best cleaner ever. When you accepted Him you got a lifetime supply of justification with God. That doesn’t mean we should go rolling in the mud just because we have all the Irish Spring we’ll ever need in Jesus. As we try to keep our bodies clean throughout the day, we should do the same with our spirits.
Don’t forget to fight the cavity creeps. Life and death are in the tongue. If the breath you’ve had has been foul, clean that too by choosing to speak good things. Verbally repeat the things you’ve learned in your spiritual bath, say the changes that you want made, and bring them to pass with the authority God gave you as His child.
Repeat. Christianity can seem like a lot of work sometimes. It is. You’re not only born again, but you do everything you did after you were born again. You learn to feed your spirit the Word. You learn to walk with Christ. You let God cleanse you and work to keep yourself clean, even though you might get a stain or two on you. You go to school and learn about His way of doing and being right. You get a job helping the body of Christ in whatever way you’re led to, joining society a.k.a. the Kingdom of God as an adult Christian. As you know, you can choose to learn more as you grow older, or stay with what you know now and miss out on many of God’s plans for you.
It’s a process. It takes patience, a little scratching, digging and scrubbing. But when you get done, you’ll have that sigh of relief that you’ve broken through another barrier, the knowledge that God does answer prayer, and your spirit will feel right as rain.