All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6 NIV
My late mother said not to use the word “cootie.” I’m about to disobey, not for the first time. Cootie is slang for louse, but to every eight year-old, it just means that someone is untouchable, contagiously germy, or emanates uncool vibes. I’m a few decades past eight, but I still use the word. If you greet someone at church with a smile and explain you have cold cooties, they understand the greeting, but not to shake your hand.
We knew cootie people in school. There was always at least one class geek whose clothes were dirty, had body odor, knew every arcane bit of trivia but couldn’t keep a conversation progressing, or played alone because they were shunned by the cool kids. I was not cool, but not cootie-ridden, either. I felt sorry for the cootie kids and treated them kindly but distantly. But I’m glad I did, because some cootie people became good friends.
It’s still that way. We know loners, social misfits, and nerdy adults at work, church, begging at the freeway onramp, possibly in our neighborhoods or extended families. Horror of horrors, maybe you’re a cootie person right now!
You know what? You are. We are. And have been since Adam and Eve tripped over their first bramble. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV) Filthy, shriveled, windswept. Definitely cootie-ridden. In Romans 3, Paul said no one is righteous of themselves.
But hear the word of the Lord: we have been given Christ’s own robe of righteousness to replace our rags. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24 NIV
By creation and redemption, we are doubly children of God, and royalty of the universe. Sometimes it’s good to be “all washed up.”