The other day I was in the kindergarten class for my volunteer work. I was sitting on one of the tiny chairs, all 5 feet 9 inches of me, waiting for a student to be assigned to read to me. One of the assistant teachers who floats from class to class came in and was eagerly greeted by a student I’ll call Tiny. Tiny ran to the assistant teacher (I’ll call her “Judy”) and called out, “Miss Judy! Miss Judy!” Tiny threw her arms around Miss Judy’s waist and squeezed her tight. Miss Judy looked at me with the expression of “What can you do?” and carefully and lightly put her fingertips on Tiny’s shoulders in what could only loosely be called a return hug. Now some people might assume the teacher’s reaction was due to warnings against the appearance of improper behavior, but my initial reaction was, “Oh man, that’s cold!” Then my second reaction was, “No that’s not it! She’s afraid of lice!”
I’m probably the only person on the planet who would jump to that conclusion, but I admit I am paranoid of lice. Who else would take a hoody to the movie theater or onto an airplane solely for the purpose of protecting my hair and the back of my neck from these creepy crawlies. A couple of weeks ago I went to an out-of-town conference and after staying in a hotel (and sleeping in a hotel bed), my scalp itched or a week! When the week was up, my imagination moved on to something else and my scalp stopped itching. My husband says, “It must be hard being you!” And it is! Both my friends Sue and Darlene, who have hosted these critters before, like the majority of adults who have had young school-age children say, “It’s no big deal. You wash heads with the special shampoo, wash clothing and bedding, and then move on.”
I can’t help but compare the interaction between Tiny and Miss Judy with what we, as Christians, are called to do—get dirty. If we’re going to be Jesus to others, we’re going to have to get a little dirty. We’re going to have to hug (see to the needs of) those who are dirty, those who are homeless or those who have AIDS, and that means getting out of our churches and going to where the dirty, sick, and homeless are. Jesus didn’t sit in the temple and expect people to come to Him. He went out to the people, into the streets and alleys and doorways where the prostitutes, the crippled and the lepers were. He didn’t preach to them; he talked with them. He talked WITH them, not down to them. He talked to them as a friend would. He wasn’t afraid to get His hands dirty, just as He wasn’t afraid to get His hands dirty with me thirty years ago.
After all, whether the dirt is spiritual or physical, it washes off!
I’d like to recommend The Debt, a fiction book by Angela Hunt. It’s about a minister’s wife who learns from her son how sometimes a person needs to leave the shelter of the church to help those no one else wants to help. This book inspired me greatly and is a great read!