Imagine yourself a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist who has spent a lifetime obsessed with dietary limitations, ritual cleansing from defilement, and seeking enlightenment.
Now consider the power of a gospel presentation that starts with what you already “know,” rather than asking you to think like a Westerner about sin and punishment. Here is one such presentation:
All flesh is defiled, and from before birth needs to be cleansed. But ceremonial rituals can’t make us clean because dirt can’t make itself clean and darkness can’t make itself light. Yet God is light, and just as a candle drives darkness from a room by entering it, He alone has the power to drive out our defilement and give us true enlightenment.
God saw that our own best efforts to cleanse ourselves are like dressing in “filthy rags.” So He provided our only hope. God Himself embraced and destroyed defilement by entering His own creation in the person of Jesus Christ, the only man to ever live undefiled. The Bible describes Jesus as “the true light that enlightens every man.”
Not only did Jesus destroy defilement through a holy life, but He demonstrated that He is God by driving disease out through his touch and even his spit! No mere prophet could touch a leper without being contaminated, and a prophet’s spit is as foul as anyone else’s. So Jesus’ miracles—healing blind eyes with spit and the leper with touch—prove that He alone is God, come to deliver us from our defilement.
Jesus not only destroyed defilement and disease by embracing them, but He embraced the greatest enemy—death itself—and then destroyed it by rising again to prove that He truly is God.
Thus our only hope for true cleansing and enlightenment lies in inviting Jesus to cleanse our defilement, and His Spirit to enlighten us, by living in and through us.
All your life you have sought cleansing that you can never achieve on your own. Are you ready to accept what God has done for you by turning to Jesus, letting go of defiling ways, and following the only one who can cleanse you, free you and deliver you?
Adapted with the author’s permission from Bruce “Thomas” Sidebotham’s 1994 Article in EMQ: The Gospel for Shame Cultures. See his 2002 revision.
To learn more about letting the Bible speak to the heart concerns of majority peoples, check out: