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Freakishly Clean

America has a new obsession: being freakishly clean.

This isn’t news to anyone who has watched TV or ventured outside in the past year. Every other TV commercial reminds us to wash our hands and wear a mask so we can outsmart our germ nemesis. At every grocery store, pharmacy and Walmart entrance there is a hand sanitizing station standing guard. In restaurants, diners are required to wear masks while entering and being seated, lest they breath unclean air on a nearby diner. At checkout lines there are plexiglass barriers and strategically placed dots on the floor to ensure that all humans remain a respectable and safe six feet apart – to manage rogue droplet transmission, of course.

But not until today, while standing outside at a gas station, did I come to fully comprehend the intensity of America’s cleanliness obsession.

As I waited by my car for the fuel tank to reach full capacity, the pump’s computer screen began to play a little jingle. “It’s freakishly clean… It’s freakishly clean… Can’t be truly clean if it’s not freakishly clean.” As I stood in a trance like state, starting at the screen, I watched as gas station employees danced around wearing gloved hands and masked faces while carrying disinfectant spray bottles. They wiped down door handles to the beat of the music and sanitized computer screens with thespian like enthusiasm. They twirled, spun and skipped all while making every last gas station surface freakishly clean.

And that’s when it hit me: America has become absolutely obsessed with keeping themselves freakishly clean. But the problem is that America isn’t focusing on the kind of clean that really matters.

Jesus put it this way: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26) In other words, if you clean the outside of a dish but not the inside of the dish, it’s still a dirty dish. From a distance it might look alright but if you get up close to this internally grimy cup, plate or bowl, you will discover that it needs a good washing before it can be once again utilized for eating or drinking.

And so it goes with you and I. Even if we drown our hands in sanitizer, we’ll still be dirty if our hearts aren’t sanctified. We can disinfect every surface we ever touch, but if we’re disconnected from the one true Living God, we will still be terribly unclean. We can buy into the lie that a mask will protect us, but when the breath of the Holy Spirit isn’t filling our soul, we will still be internally contaminated by sin and death.

This obsession with external cleanliness was a trap set by satan back when Jesus walked the earth and it remains a trap set for you and I today. Like the men and women of Jesus’ day who were so fixated on cleaning up the outside that they neglected what was on the inside, we, too have lost sight of what truly matters most – the cleanliness of the heart

Today in America, not only is the world buying into this external cleanliness trap but the churches – God’s people – are, too. The church is standing idly by while sanitization stations are kept open and sanctification centers (ie: the churches) are being closed. Stores are welcoming customers but pastors, who God says should be spiritual shepherds, are keeping their flocks socially distanced and apart. The doors of God’s house are being shuttered in the name of “health and safety” but what could be more dangerous than disobeying God’s Word which clearly states that God’s people are to gather together (Hebrews 10:24-25)?

We’ve silenced worship with masks and rules that forbid God’s people from singing. We’ve replaced handshakes and hugs with elbow bumps and waves exchanged from six feet away. We’ve allowed our churches to become disconnected, detached and, ultimately, disengaged from the power of God all because we’ve followed the world instead of the way, truth and life of Jesus Christ.

We, God’s church, have become completely obsessed with that which our Lord strictly said we are not to become obsessed with. Namely, the outside of the dish. All the while, our freakishly clean world is perishing for a lack of knowledge, human connection and spiritual regeneration. And my question is, when is the church going to recognize what’s happening, repent and recalibrate to the will and Word of God? When is the American church going to break free from the devil’s deception and get back to cleaning the inside of the dish?