POLLUTION, FILTERS, AND PURITY
The air quality in Bangkok has been horrible lately. It’s affecting people’s health and affecting our way of life. School was cancelled for two days becasue of the poor air quality. There’s a huge demand for air purifiers and masks with filters.
Even though it is a serious situation, I’m glad our friends were able to make a music video about it. If you need some stress relief, it is worth taking a look! Make Sure You Wear Your Mask!
Thinking about impurities and filters reminded me of an evening that took place in our home many years ago. We enjoyed hosting a house full of teens on Friday nights and I was finding that I really loved trying to discover what God had for the teens each week. Our theme verse for that semester was a classic “teen” verse—Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (I Timothy 4:12)
We had already had some good discussions about speech, conduct, love and faith. I was working on a discussion about purity. With a lifetime of growing up in the Christian culture with an emphasis on purity, there was a wealth of possibilities.
As I looked at each idea and thought about what to say, I kept having an unsettled feeling. Something wasn’t quite right, but I wasn’t sure what.
“I just can’t figure out what to share on Friday night.” I told my friend. “There’s something about the topic of purity that I feel like I can’t wrap my head around and I can’t find a way to express it.”
“What have you thought about so far?” Her interest was real and helped me take stock of the things I had thought about as I answered.
“I feel like purity has to do with sex and dating. I thought about the poop in the brownies illustration—how just a little poop makes the whole pan impure. I think that would make an impression. And, there’s a lot about dating and relationships and the reasons to keep yourself pure. I thought about reminding them to be the person with the character that they would want to marry. But, for some reason, none of it feels right. These students are from different backgrounds and denominations and I don’t want to make a list for them to follow. And, the topic of purity seems like it is confusing-it’s hard to pinpoint or define.”
“How can these teens achieve purity?” She wisely asked.
I stopped and thought. I knew human nature well enough to know even those of us with the best plans and with good boundaries could still have impure thoughts. I’d talked to enough teens to know that the outward behavior I saw didn’t always match the inward lusts inside. No matter how hard we tried in our human efforts, purity wasn’t something we could achieve.
“Only through Jesus,” I answered.
“Then concentrate on Him.”
We bounced around ideas as we talked about how to illustrate the way that only Jesus can cleanse. When she mentioned her niece’s science project about building a water filter, the pieces fell into place and I knew what God wanted me to share.
That Friday night, I filled up a pepsi bottle full of muddy water from our yard and poured it through Mariko’s water filter. It passed through the gravel, the charcoal, the sand, and the cotton. Eventually, the water poured into a clear plastic container.
The muddy water had no hope by itself, but as it travelled through the filter, it completely changed. I reminded the teens that it is in coming to Jesus that we can be purified—not us trying harder, but us coming and receiving the cleaning process He achieved through the death of Jesus on the cross.
What happened next was unforgettable. Repentance evidenced by tears swept the room and the sweetness of the God who purifies was evident. Burdens were lifted and sins were forgiven as we came into His presence.
That night changed our Friday night meetings. Our living room became a holy place. From that time on at youth meetings, I try to give us an opportunity to reflect on our hearts so that we could bring them before the One who purifies.
I am still in the process of learning the beauty and importance of coming before God, allowing Him to purify me each time I feel unclean. I still struggle with a works mentality as I “try to get it right” and I often forget that purity comes in repentance and surrender. When I find myself feeling unclean and frustrated and yucky inside, I remind myself to take it to the One who can get rid of all my ugliness.
Water filters take out the dirt and make our water clean. Masks filter out the pollution and make the air clean.
And Jesus Christ is the filter that takes away our impurities and makes us clean . Purity can be found and it is in the presence of Jesus.