Confession time – this thought is not ABOUT Sabbath, and it’s not the FRUIT of a Sabbath moment. It actually came out of my regular Bible reading, so technically it doesn’t belong on the blog. But hey, my blog, my rules… and my exceptions. 🙂
Forty years into my study of the Bible, I’m still coming across new ideas. I discovered one recently in Exodus, and later came across the same idea in Leviticus. It took a while to make sure that I wasn’t confused, but further research confirmed it – there were objects used in temple worship in Israel whose holiness was so powerful that it was contagious. You could become holy by touching them! Sounds strange, I know, but stay with me here.
In Exodus, God makes that statement about the altar (29:37) and later about the rest of the temple furniture and utensils (30:29). In Leviticus, it’s the grain offerings (6:18) and the sin offering (6:27). In each case, the object is labeled “most holy,” and it had a sanctifying or consecrating influence on whatever or whoever would touch it (see amplification in the Comments section below).
Wait a minute. Isn’t this backwards? We usually assume that the unclean negatively impacts the clean, whether we’re talking about mud on our shoes, bacteria on our hands, or the meat that falls to the ground off the BBQ. And in most cases, that’s true – Israel was warned to avoid “unclean” things and people, and the Pharisees in Christ’s day made a living out of fleeing (and condemning others for failure to flee) the contamination that came from interaction with sinners. It drove them nuts that Jesus so carelessly hung out with “unholy people.” They thought less of Him for it, assuming that He came away diminished by the contact.
But could it be that purity can trump impurity? Can something, or someone, be so holy that their holiness, rather than being fragile and easily corrupted, flows outward and overwhelms the unholiness around it? That was obviously true of Jesus. Holiness flowed outward from Him, not simply surviving contact with the world, but changing the world through that contact.
Could this be true of me? Is it possible for me to be “most holy,” like the temple offerings? Could that be part of what it means to be a “living sacrifice?” Can it be that those who come into contact with me walk away changed for the better, in some way set apart by my own “set apartness?”
I’ve been chewing on this idea for the past month, and in fact it was part of my Sabbath hike yesterday (so I guess I’m off the hook on the rules). If that kind of holiness exists, I want it! I aspire to a life that God would call “most holy,” with a burly holiness that rubs off in a positive way on the people around me.
Who wants a wimpy version of holiness?