Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart… Psalm 24:3-4a
A few weeks back, Hulu made all 15 seasons of ER available for streaming. I had never watched the show, so I thought I’d give it a try. Wow. I feel like I should get credit for a year of med school for every season I complete.
They’re always washing their hands. I’m talking deep, lathered scrubbing. More than any “employees must wash their hands” sign ever dreamed of. Working at the fingernails, all the way up the arms. And then they hold their hands up to avoid contact with any germs.
You’d think they wouldn’t need to be that careful, with all the unclean people that come into the Emergency Room. Drug addicts trying to scam some pills, Seniors suffering from confusion or neglect, folks with every kind of disease imaginable. People covered in blood, or dirt, or something equally filthy. It’s one of the messiest places you can find, and yet, there is this deliberate cleansing to avoid contamination.
Do I do that? I mean, as a pastor. As a Christian. Do I need to scrub in before I try to help someone in need? For some people, the church can be like an emergency room — a place to go when all hope is lost, when the suffering is too great, when confusion and neglect overwhelm. When being unclean becomes unbearable.
If ER is any sort of correlation, I really shouldn’t engage in helping, or ministry, until I’m sure I’m not contaminated. I need to be made clean.
The first of John Wesley’s General Rules was “Do no harm.” Absolutely. In the helping of somebody else’s spiritual germs, we can cause contamination if we haven’t monitored our own issues. We can act selfishly, or impatiently. We can avoid listening, or practice messy theology.
Can you imagine the cast of ER treating serious wounds while covered in dirt? It would be dangerous. The same is true for us, but for Christians in service, more is needed than soap and water. We need to be in constant prayer, turning to the scriptures, connected in community. We need to remember our baptisms — that cleansing Grace of the Holy Spirit that is with us our whole lives. We need to know the power of Jesus Christ to forgive sins.
This is how we scrub in. Not just as pastors, or lay leaders. Every Christian is called to do a rotation in the ER. Every one of us is on call to be the hands and feet of Christ at a moment’s notice.
We may never be perfectly clean as we prepare for the mission field, but we must be ready to follow in the steps of the Great Physician.
(And I don’t mean Noah Wyle)
Have a good week,