Amou Haji, dubbed “The World’s Dirtiest Man” died at the age of 94 in his native town of Dejgah, Iran, on October 23, 2022. Haji’s claim to fame? Not bathing for over 60 yrs!
He was a hermit, living alone in an ash covered, cinder block shack. It is reported by locals that he survived by eating roadkill and smoking animal feces in a pipe, all the while believing that bathing would make him ill.
Amazingly, Haji lived a long and mostly healthy life. Until, that is, locals finally convinced him to bathe and seek medical examination. A few short months later, Haji grew ill and died.
No, bathing did not kill Haji, as some have speculated, but neither did it save him. He was an old man. Death comes to us all, regardless of our personal hygiene habits.
There is a sense in which we all have much more in common with Haji than just our inevitable mortality. The truth is, spiritually speaking, that we are all filthy. No amount of soap and water can wash away the sin that soils, defiles, and darkens our souls.
Yet unlike the ineffectual soap and water the locals used to try to cleanse Haji from his filthy past, there is a washing and renewing which can not only cleanse us from our past, but also grant us ultimate spiritual health and eternal life.
As the beloved hymn so accurately proclaims, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NKJV).
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, ESV).
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14, NIV).
How many times have you awakened, looked in the mirror, and said, “Man, I’m having a bad hair day.” Well, for the 100 or so people around the world with the ultra-rare disease, Uncombable Hair Syndrome, they wake up every single morning to that reality. UHS stems from a genetic mutation through which the hair shaft takes on a rather triangular shape, causing the hair to stand up straight from the head, making it impossible for the hair to lay flat. As such, sufferers look unkempt, ungroomed, unruly, all the time.
No amount of effort on their part can manage their “bad hair.” Not rollers, nor, irons, nor gels, nor sprays.
One might think, just from looking, that these people simply don’t care about their appearance, or are blind to how unkempt and unruly they look. That’s because it takes a deep look into their genetic code to see just what’s really going on.
For most of us, we look into the mirror and we say to ourselves, “Hey, I don’t look too bad today!” And even if we awaken with a bad hair day, we can pull out the hot rollers or hair gel, and voilà, problem solved. We can present with a fairly tidy appearance. But what if we looked deeper into the mirror, into the core of our being?
At our core, in our soul of souls, we are all unkempt, untidy, and unruly. That’s because we are all born with a spiritual mutation … a sinful nature.
No amount of behavioral grooming can correct it. Oh sure, we can mask it, and present it with a pretty tidy appearance. We can justify it and say that it's not so bad. But we can’t correct it on our own. Only the “washing and renewing” of our spirit can do that.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5, NKJV)
A young American couple, Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs to take a year-long bike trip around the world. Sadly, the trip took a fatal turn on a route near the Afgan border where they were stabbed to death by alleged ISIS terrorists. The couple ignored warnings about the dangers of the region, claiming to believe that evil was a make-believe concept.
Earlier on their journey, while in Morocco, Austin wrote:
"You watch the news and you read the papers and you're led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are ax murderers and monsters and worse.
I don't buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we've invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it's easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that's quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this."
It's pretty shocking to think that anyone could be this naive. You would think that all anyone would need to do is to watch or read the news to know that evil is alive and active in our world.
But perhaps even more surprising is the denial that evil exists within ourselves. For it is one thing to be suspicious of the "narrative" presented by the media; it's quite another to deny our own dark side. It's not "make-believe" to believe that evil is real. But it is pure fantasy to deny what we all know to be true within--sin dwells in all of us.
There are consequences to living in denial of such a fundamental truth. It causes us to turn a deaf ear, like the Geoghegans did, to important warnings we might otherwise heed. And there are also spiritual consequences to living in denial of the existence of evil. When we refuse to acknowledge the sin that dwells within us, we turn a deaf ear to God's warnings of impending judgment and to our own personal need for salvation.
As tragic as the story of the Geoghegans is, this is far more tragic.
"For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come--sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person" (Mark 7:21-23).