Scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feed, I can’t help but notice how many people are ill right now with the flu, the stomach bug, or one of the other hundreds of viruses that cling to doorknobs and faucet handles at work and at school. Even as I pray for those who request it, I selfishly hope that I don’t join their ranks.
There is a silver lining, though, to being ill, and that is the first day that you feel better. There’s nothing quite like the cleansing warmth of a shower or tub bath after having been forced to lie around in the same pair of pajamas for days on end or the cool, minty flavor of toothpaste once your sense of taste has returned to normal. It’s almost—ALMOST—worth the illness to feel so clean and fresh.
The feeling is very similar to the spiritual high Christians often feel after attending church camp, a men’s or ladies’ retreat, a church revival meeting, or another concentrated time of spiritual cleansing and renewal. Anyone who has experienced it will agree that there’s nothing quite like the cool relief that follows a time of repentance and received forgiveness, the quiet calm and confidence that follow a reminder of God’s unfailing love, or the pervasive, tingling sense of purpose and calling that inevitably follows an issue of spiritual challenge. The experience is truly exhilarating, though not worth the illness and the yuck that we sit in waiting for it to happen to us.
The Bible tells us that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23) and that forgiveness is never more than a prayer away (1 John 1:9). The Word of God, readily available to those of us living in the United States, is sharp with challenge for those who crave it, so why do we let it sit? Why do we, children of God who know the rush of feeling clean and close to God, remain in our spiritual pajamas most days, hot with discontent, sticky in our sin, and stale with selfish attitude?
According to Scripture, “everyone who has this hope in Him (salvation and Christ-likeness) purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3), and goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love are ours to add (2 Peter 1:5-7) with the Spirit’s help. Brothers and sisters, spiritual growth requires faith and effort on our part. Those waiting for a sponge bath will be disappointed.