Jesus and Disgust
The feeling of “disgust” is an interesting concept. Recently, I read a very challenging book by Richard Beck about the spiritual impact of “disgust” on our walk with Jesus. The concept is this… When something is “unclean” or “disgusting” it makes everything it comes in contact with unclean and disgusting.
Take for instance a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice with a two-inch cockroach swimming around in it. The unclean cockroach has “defiled” the orange juice… And the thought of chugging down this orange juice with a massive bug in it should, and has probably brought about some level of “disgust” in your mind, no matter how thirsty you were!
Now if I took that same glass of orange juice, took the bug out, triple-filtered the juice—making it actually more clean than it was before—poured it back into a clean glass, and set it before you, remembering the cockroach swimming around in it before, even then, you would still probably not drink it.
The emotion of “disgust” is extremely powerful. The human equation of disgust is this: Unclean things make good things unclean and disgusting, never the other way around. Dropping a dirty cockroach into the fresh orange juice would never suddenly make the bug clean. Or, for another example, if I dropped a delicious fresh grilled hamburger into the trash, it would not make the trash can clean. The hamburger would be ruined.
We live our lives like this, avoiding dirty, disgusting, unclean things, places, and people in hopes that their “dirtyness” won’t rub off on us. But when we look at how Jesus lived, he did the opposite.
Jesus searched out the unclean things, people, and places of this world, touched them, and actually made them clean and holy—the clean actually purifying the unclean. He goes against the law of disgust, the law of sin really, and touches people, forgives people, who are deemed unclean and disgusting…
This is the good news of Jesus.
We find ourselves this weekend in Simon’s house, gasping, disgusted at the unclean prostitute at Jesus feet (Luke 7.36-50). How could he not know? Didn’t he realize what it meant to associate with people like this? Jesus answers by letting us know we are missing the point, and missing our mission.
Those of us who were once also unclean in every way should be overflowing with love and compassion. We should be on mission, taking the power of this gospel to “dark,” “dirty” places and people.
Matt Stowell | missions and service
Matt serves as the pastor of missions and service at Ada Bible Church. He and his wife Debbie have three great kids and attend the Knapp Street Campus. They have been involved in full-time ministry for over 17 years, serving most recently in Chiang Mai, Thailand. When Matt is not traveling he enjoys hanging out with the family, building stuff, and football.