One thing that we became more aware of after COVID-19 is cleanliness. Think of the things we enjoy more if they are “clean”? Maybe we think of doorknobs, bathrooms, kitchen counters, floors, drawers, garages, cell phones, computer screens or keyboards, microwave ovens, refrigerators, our clothes, our hands, teeth, sheets, pillowcases, windows, car windshields. The list can be endless. It is not quite spring here in the PNW, but we may be wishing it was by now. Maybe we are ready for some good old-fashioned “spring cleaning.” 

Let’s talk about cleaning. We might quickly think about what physically needs to be clean, but I want us to think about what it means to become spiritually clean. This type of cleansing needs to happen more often than during the spring season. It should also have a higher value than physical cleansing. Like other good habits, we should find a daily space where we are spiritually cleansed. Let’s recognize a regular need for repentance, cleansing, and forgiveness.   

The text for tomorrow’s message is Luke 23:26-43. We have Jesus on the cross with one criminal on each side. These men were both feeling spiritually dirty by this point. One decided to hurl insults at Jesus, and the other asked an essential question of his criminal partner in verses 40-43: 

Don’t you fear God?” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

We need this kind of repentant heart regularly, don’t we? Notice Jesus’ response to this repentant criminal. A cleansing can happen when we connect with Jesus as this criminal did in these moments. The truth is that we deserve to be on the cross for our sins, but Jesus took them upon Himself on our behalf. What a moment for these criminals to see what forgiveness can look like.  

Let’s consider the various things that make us feel dirty. Seeing the spiritual dirt or sin in others might be easier, so let’s start there. Has someone lied to you, broken a promise, talked behind your back, spread rumors about you, stolen something from you, turned others against you? This list can go on and on, can’t it?  

Now, let me turn the questions towards us. Have we lied to someone, broken a promise, talked behind someone’s back, spread rumors, stolen something from someone, or turned others against someone? Ouch! 

If we are feeling in any way dirty after reading this list, let’s come clean. Let’s turn ourselves in like the one repentant criminal in today’s text. Let’s consider our relationship with God and the spiritual dirt we can list that separates us from Him.  

Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles consider your role as mentors of the next generation. It is essential that we teach the younger ones what it means to be spiritually cleansed. If there is a vital spiritual lesson that the Bible has in the “Top 5”, it is this truth that we can be forgiven. 

Help children see how our relationships can be seen through a triangle diagram. God tells us to Love him and Love others. A broken relationship with God affects our relationships with others. Broken relationships with others affect our relationship with God. We need mended, redeemed, and cleansed relationships.  

Teach the next generation to recognize that we can each be responsible for three relational directions affected by sin: 

  1. Our sin against God 
  1. Our sin against others 
  1. Others sin against us 

Let’s help the children in our lives see what it means to keep our relationships with God and others mended, redeemed, and cleansed. I hope that we all hear Jesus say to us: 

  • I can cleanse your heart through what I did on the cross for you. 
  • I can cleanse the sin that comes between you and others. 
  • I can help you teach the next generation what it looks like to forgive and to live forgiven by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Be cleansed and forgiven! 

Paul Hargreaves 
Senior Director of Family Ministries