Today I started thinking about messiness, and dirtiness. I am someone who likes a clean world. And I don’t really like messiness in general. But today my little boy ran up to me when I came home saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” wanting a big hug and kiss.
The only thing was he had a really snotty face, his mouth was full of cookie, and when he gives kisses they are big open mouthed kisses. So did I ask him to clean his face first? No, of course not. I gave him a big kiss, runny nose and all.
The reason this struck me is because we all seem to have different tolerances of “dirtiness” in our lives. But the interesting thing is that depending on the person, our tolerance of dirtiness changes. Hudson running with a dirty face for a kiss gets one, if it was someone else it might not have happened. The point is that our acceptance of “messiness” affects relationships.
Do we allow people to enter our worlds who aren’t clean, perfect, and orderly? Do we actually invite people who are different, messy, and maybe even dirty and unkempt to journey with us? Would we be willing to kiss a dirty face?
This might seem like an odd question, but for the people of God it is a crucial question. The question of acceptance is critical for the church because Jesus demonstrates a radical acceptance of people just as they are. Jesus kisses people with dirty faces, and even dirty feet. People don’t need to change or to be cleaned up to come to Jesus or join his followers. Tax collectors, lepers, and prostitutes came and joined his group as they were without change. Jesus seems to be okay with a bit of dirt, and messiness. The question is are we?
Do we allow people to join with us, and belong without being clean? Do we expect people to behave like Christians before learning to following Jesus with us? Are we okay with some messiness, dirt, and grime in church? These are the questions we, as Christians, need to answer because if Jesus is okay with some messiness, we need to be too.
You know what made the difference for me allowing me to kiss my son’s dirty face? The simple fact that I deeply love him. Love changes how we see people. Love changes how we see messy lives, and broken hearts. Love looks past the outside, the dirt, the sin, the brokenness, and sees someone worth loving. That’s how Jesus sees us and we need to see people in the same way.
So the final question is this: are you looking on people with love? Do you see people as Jesus does? Are your actions those of Jesus, accepting people as they are and welcoming them in? Does who you welcome, and hang out with look like the same people Jesus welcomed and spends time with? Because if we want to learn to follow Jesus, we need to start being like Jesus. Spending time with dirty and broken people.
I can tell you when we start doing that we’ll discover Jesus in our midst. If you want to find Jesus, you need to go where he hangs out; and Jesus has always hung out where people with messy lives and dirty faces are. So why not join Jesus there, loving, accepting, and kissing a dirty face or two…