I was sitting in the chair as the stylist snipped away. At one point I'd noticed she had suddenly stopped, and after a long pause I heard her say, "Sick!"
Startled, I looked up into the mirror to see horror and disgust written all over the stylist's face.
She turned and called loudly to my dad sitting over in the waiting area, "You need to get here out of here. She has lice."
(Thanks for the discretion there. Although I'm sure there was someone in upstate New York who didn't quite hear you.)
She yanked the apron off me, and forced me to do a walk of shame from the chair to my dad while people eyed me nervously. After all, everyone in the place had heard her announcement.
It was a nightmare for an already-self-conscious 8-year old. I felt humiliated. Unclean.
Since I was mid-haircut when she discovered the lice, we had to go to the store with my unintentionally asymmetrical hairdo to buy a head lice kit, go home, do the treatment, and THEN return that same day to have the other half of my hair cut.
I plainly understood one thing that day--I was not to return until I was clean.
But that was just one day, one unfortunate incident. Can you imagine how those with leprosy must feel, being constantly and publicly avoided and declared "unclean" -- the unending rejection and looks of disdain? I experienced a day of being declared unclean. Theirs is an agonizing lifetime of it!
But Jesus. Jesus bent to touch the ones afflicted. Met the gaze of those suffering. Dared to touch the unclean...and then make them clean.
"Come back when you're clean" never exited the mouth of Jesus. No prerequisite of cleaning up our act before we run to Him. Jesus welcomes the revolting, bidding them come to receive what He freely gives. In our ugliness we are rescued from the dirty depths and pulled from the miry pits. We are received in our filthiest state, loved deeply...and made clean.
But God demonstrates His love for us in this:
While we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us.