Are you “clean” or “unclean”?
Adapted from a sermon at First United Methodist Church of Orlando.
There’s some strange stuff in the Bible.
When Jesus came on the scene, “the Bible” as we know it today did not exist. The Torah, or the first five books of what we call the Bible, were taught by Rabbi’s. Added to that were writings of the Prophets and other works that would eventually become what we call the Old Testament. These writings contain early humanity’s understanding of their relationship with God.
The early followers of God developed many rules for God’s people to follow. Eating an ox was ok but a pig was not. No bacon or pork for our Old Testament brethren. Also not ok: most birds (though chicken was fine), shrimp, lobster, reptiles, and some bugs. Other bugs, locusts and grasshoppers, were perfectly fine to eat. I don’t know about you, but I’d choose bacon over grasshopper any day. Guess I wouldn’t have made it as a early follower of God…
These early dietary restrictions were a form of covenant between God and humanity. People showed their devotion by only eating food considered “clean” and completely avoiding anything considered “unclean”.
A passage in Leviticus says should an “unclean” bug fall into a clay water pot, any water in the pot is now “unclean” and the pot itself must be destroyed. The pot, any any water to be poured from it, will forever be “unclean.” Oh, and if that dead bug happened to touch your oven, well you better smash that up, too.
What was considered “clean” was also called “sacred”, or connected to God. What was considered “unclean” was also called “profane”, or disconnected from God. This is where profanity comes from: “unclean” words. Profanity means “blasphemous or absence language.” So anything we say that is disconnected to God is “profane”.
Unfortunately people did what people do and began applying this concept to people. All of a sudden, you were either in or you were out. You were either sacred or your were profane. Awful, right? Enter Jesus.