The Holy and the Ordinary

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

On all four sides he measured the wall all the way around. Its length was seven hundred fifty feet, and its width seven hundred fifty feet. So he made a division between the holy and the ordinary.

Ezekiel 42:20

In Ezekiel 42, the angelic being in Ezekiel's vision measures various dimensions of the temple in Jerusalem, ending with the large area outside of the temple, which was surrounded by a wall. This outer wall "made a division between the holy and the ordinary" (42:20).

Holiness was central to the temple and its people. The area of the temple was holy in that it was set apart from common use for God's purposes only. Only special people could enter the holy areas of the temple, according to certain variables. The high priest alone could enter the holiest place in the very center of the temple. The wall signified the impenetrable boundary between that which was set apart for God as holy and the rest of life.

This notion of holiness, so central to the Old Testament, was turned inside out by Jesus. As you may recall, he scandalized the religious leaders of his day by hanging out with known sinners. This was not something Jewish holy men were supposed to do. Yet Jesus did not separate himself from the people he came to serve. Though not joining in their sin, he joined them in life.

Too often, Christians have lived according to the vision of Ezekiel rather than the example of Jesus. As servants of our Master, we are called to be holy people. God has set us apart for himself and for serving him. Yet, this does not mean we hide in the safety of Christian community. Rather, we are to live in the world in a distinctive way. We are to represent God to our coworkers, neighbors, friends, and even enemies. We are to be "in, but not of" the world, living with a contagious holiness that draws people to God's love, grace, and holiness.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you hear the word "holy," what comes to mind? How is it possible to be "in, but not of" the world? What helps you to live in the world in a distinctive way as a follower of Jesus?

PRAYER: Holy God, you are set apart from the fallenness of this world, from its impurity and decay. In you, there is no hint of sin, evil, or death. Yet, in Jesus, you have entered into this world. You are not watching us from a safe distance. Rather, you have come to dwell among us that we might become your holy people.

Help me, Lord, to be set apart for you, a sanctuary for your Spirit. Help me to live according to your ways, not the ways of this world. Yet, may I continue to live in this world, among its people, bearing witness to you through my words and deeds. May people be drawn to you as you are present in my life. Amen.

Images sourced via Creative Commons.

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