The great unwashed
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)
My friend and I were in the queue at the supermarket when we saw him. He was sitting on the pavement huddled in a tattered sleeping bag. He looked so tired, I wondered where he had slept the previous night. As we passed, we put some change in the paper cup in front of him and he said, ‘God bless ye mam.’ I was moved, until my friend said quietly to me, ‘He might have a Porsche at home, he might be better off than the pair of us!’ I thought about what she had said and responded, ‘Isn’t it good that we are not his judge then.’
As I considered this poor man, so much in need of a hot bath, clean clothes, and a hearty meal, I remembered a line from a comedy television program – a wisecrack, given about ‘the great unwashed’. It was a comment intended to denigrate those who were perhaps not as well educated or financially stable as the celebrity who made the statement.
When it comes down to it, every human being forms part of ‘the great unwashed’. King David wrote in Psalm 51:2, ‘Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.’ He understood that our wrongdoings, our sins, separate us from God’s utter righteousness, and in Psalm 51:7 he continues, ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.’
Spiritually speaking, there was a time when I was no better. In fact, I was probably worse than this poor chap. Until Jesus paid the price, I was covered in the filthy rags of sin. I was grateful to my friend on the pavement for his blessing and the ensuing thoughts he had encouraged. I pray he will come to know the Lord Jesus soon, and be cleaner than the snow in every sense.
I yearn for the day when we will both be clothed in the fine linen of God’s righteousness, described in Revelation 19:7-8. We will sit at the Lord’s table and rejoice – together.
Father God, thank you so much for the most precious gift of your Son, help us to become more and more like Him, Amen
Study by Irene Wilson
About the writer:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford congregation of Grace Communion International, and also serves on the Pastoral Council.
St. Peter’s Church
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