We’ve been thanking God that so far our family has avoided the flu bug that has hit with such virulence. With flu shots, immediate quarantine of the slightest sniffle, and a strictly regimented hand washing routine, we’ve been able to get away with a quickly treated sinus infection and nothing more. But the infectious nature of this year’s flu strains seems to be worse than previous years.
Watching the Israelites deal with the infectious nature of “uncleanness” is an interesting study. Like the flu or any other virus, uncleanness passed from person to person, from unclean item to people, just by touch. And when the primary goal of their life is cleanness, this is a serious problem. An unclean person would at best be exiled from the community into the dangerous wilderness outside a city’s boundaries for a week, or at worst be cut off from their people forever. Priests made unclean could not eat anything holy, which was their entire food supply. No wonder the priest in the Good Samaritan story passed by out of the contagious zone!
Jesus came as the cure for this problematic, even lethal, contagion of uncleanness. When Jesus proclaimed Himself the “living water”, he was talking about cleanness. “Living”, or freeflowing, water was the one thing that could make unclean things clean again. Jesus said that if we follow Him, streams of the stuff would flow from us, and that He Himself was the source of it. In other words, we are walking, talking cures for uncleanness!
Today, we don’t talk much about uncleanness, but we do talk about sin. And while we don’t forgive people their sins against God, we can introduce them to Jesus who will. He is the source of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and we are the containers that bring that possibility to the people around us.
What happens when the containers stop bringing cleanness to the people around them? What happens in a community that doesn’t have a flu vaccine? The flu, like uncleanness or sin, spreads and eventually takes over everything. It is imperative that we share this living water with everyone around us and fight back the natural spread of sin in this world.