One thing I love about the church I attend is that we still practice the reading of longer passages of scripture in the service each week. In recent months we have been hearing the book of Ezekiel read aloud. It is easy to get lost in some of the details and visitors may sometimes wonder why we are reading a particular section of the Bible. We read books of the Bible in their entirety so some weeks may seem random for a first-time visitor.
As is often the case when I am reading (or in this case hearing) Old Testament prophets, I will be struck by a simple phrase or statement that is a jewel to be pondered. Yesterday, it was Ezekiel 42:20. The Lord is giving Ezekiel the details and measurements of the new temple chambers when at the end of the chapter he writes, "It had a wall around it...to make a separation between the holy and the common."It hit me that this is something that is lost in our time and culture, even in the church.
There is to be a wall between what is holy and what is common.
That which is common is for everyday use and available to all. There is nothing special about the common. It is precisely that...common. When we take things that are common and try to blend them with the holy, we contaminate the purity of what God has declared as his own and we defile it, making it a stench that dishonors his name,which is Holy. In our services, if we are not attune to the holiness of God we can easily become so focused on being culturally relevant and unoffensive that we lose the holiness and reverence of our gathering to worship the living God, maker and sustainer of all things.
That which is holy is set apart for God and his purposes. God takes people and purifies them, making them holy for himself. Peter writes that we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9 ESV). We are called saints.
Our lives should be characterized by a pursuit of holiness.
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:13-19 ESV).
We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 7:23 ESV) and do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God and since he has set us apart for his purposes, we are holy.
To preserve the holiness of God's name, we must guared against the temptation for our lives and the church to become common. We must make a separation between the holy and the common.We and the church are anything but common.