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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eating with "sinners"

I love a good quote. Last week (or was it the week before?) I read Craig L. Blomberg's "Contagious Holiness" (NSBT, Ed D.A. Carson, Illinois: IVP, 2005). It's a great survey of the meals that Jesus participates in and it looks at the way Jesus ignored the "purity" regulations of his day. Instead he focussed upon the people that he was dealing with, recognising that his purity was more "contagious" than their "impurity". Here's a great paragraph that summarises Blomberg's book really well... The unifying theme that emerges from the passages surveyed... may be called "contagious holiness". Jesus regularly associates with the various sorts of sinners on whom the most pious in his culture frowned, but his association is never an end in itself. Implicitly or explicitly, he is calling people to change their ways and follow him as their master. But unlike so many in his world... he does not assume that he will be defiled by associating with corrupt people. Rather, his purity can rub off on them and change them for the better. Cleanliness, he believes, is even more "catching" than uncleanness; morality more influential than immorality. (pg 128). This is a great thought regarding Christian holiness. We, when we are united with Christ, become "contagious". We, like Christ, influence those around us for the good much more than they influence us for the bad. This is what it means, I believe, to be "in the world", but not "of the world" (see John 17). Through being "in Christ" (as Paul would say), or "participating in the Divine nature" (as Peter would say), we receive the holiness of Christ and so become like him - having an impact on society, just by living in it. As we do so, may we rely on him to continue to make us holy as he is holy...