MythBusters,[i] Pastor in the Parsonage Edition
This week, I’m offering several brief devotions, plus a sermon, inspired by the show MythBusters. I hope you enjoy! – Pastor Steph
Thursday, May 28, 2020 Myth: Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Scripture: Luke 11:37-41
This myth was one we likely heard growing up, when our parents or teachers or some adult wanted us to wash up, or get ourselves cleaner in the bath or shower. They told us that “cleanliness is next to Godliness” assuming that we of course wanted to be, well, Godly. Whether or not we actually Want to be Godly is a whole other message, and we’re not going to tackle that one right now, but we will look at whether or not there is an actual correlation between cleanliness and Godliness.
We’ll look at a scripture about exactly what our parents may have told us in using this myth: hand washing:
Luke 11:37-41 New Living Translation (NLT)
As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
In this scripture, it first appears as though Jesus is telling us that dirty hands are preferable to clean ones. If that were all Jesus were saying then this myth would surely be Busted. However, that is NOT what Jesus is saying. Jesus is, rather, telling the Pharisees that hand-washing is not all there is to life. For those who were working to keep the law were working to only keep the law, without regard to those who were unable to keep portions of the law. In this case, they were lifting up the importance of washing without any regard to those who have no clean water. Jesus cares about our inner selves, not our outer selves.
What’s more, Jesus is clear that the way to clean our insides is by giving to help those who have less than us. If the Pharisees spent less time worrying about people who had dirty hands, and more time helping all people to have clean water to wash their hands, then they would be clean on the INSIDE, which is far more important.
So, in the case of the myth, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” this myth is CONFIRMED – but only when we’re talking about Real Cleanliness – the kind that comes from the inside when we are loving our neighbor as Jesus taught us.
[i] Peter Rees, Jonathan Lung, Brian Louden. Myth Busters. DSC Network, 2003-2018.