Bleach. I grew up with the fragrance. It reminds me of my grandmother’s house. I use it occasionally at home, and frequently at work it to decontaminate and “bathe” my CPR manikins. And,yes, it stains, believe me, I know. But then I’ve also had to deal with blood stains, oil stains, etc. It’s a really good thing that I’m into second hand clothes. I don’t actually deserve new clothing. In my line of work (school nurse) and with my lifestyle (somewhat sloppy), I’m just too hard on them, and they would worry me too much.
I think I’m in good company. I’m currently reading the part of the Old Testament where Moses is setting up his brother Aaron and sons with the very solemn and important priesthood for the wandering nation of Israel. This is a really big deal. All kinds of preparations and sacrifices have been made exactly to God’s specifications; there have been many kinds of talents involved here: metal workers, artists, seamstresses, carpenters, and the list goes on. For these new priests, beautiful clothes have been painstakingly designed and created (no sewing machines back then…OH! the things I take for granted!)
Then the ceremony begins, and I pick it up here, (and I quote):
“So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.” (Leviticus 8:30)
OIL?? BLOOD?? Do you know how hard it is to clean oil and blood out of clothing? Even with our fancy 21st century chemistry, oil and blood are still high on the list of nasty stain-makers. I can just hear Mrs. Aaron now. “Aw, c’mon, guys. I just finished that tunic. Those men can never keep anything clean!”
Interestingly, it wasn’t the beauty of the garment that made them special. It may have been the high quality linen, the color and stitching of the embroidery, and the mastery of the craftsmanship that went into all of it that made it beautiful. But it was the oil and the blood that made it holy.
I like the fact that the word holy comes from a root word meaning “whole”. So holy includes the concept of the whole picture, the entire situation, even an eternal outcome. It also adds the idea of wholeness to the motive, and the internal configuration of the person involved. Holiness denotes a shift in the spiritual DNA producing a wholeness otherwise unaccounted for. It causes a willingness to get dirty with humanity on God’s level, and not merely my own.
Take home lesson for me: even my finest “clothing”, that is, the things I wrap around my identity like projects, character traits, even relationships, must be “stained” with the oil of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to be acceptable to God, or in other words, holy.
Otherwise, they’re just pretty clothes that will soon become stained by the effects of the world at large. Kinda like my bleach….
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.