Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 3 2013 - 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 – I will live with them and walk among them

Paul assembles a series of texts from the Old Testament to describe the privileges and calling of the Christian. What the temple symbolised for Israel has become a living reality for us; God has come to live with us by his Spirit and, in an echo of Eden, he walks among us. We are children of the living God; members of his family. This is an immense privilege, but it brings with it the calling for us to live a holy life. The call to holiness is not a call to some peculiar ascetic lifestyle; we are not called to live in a cave in the desert or on the top of a high pole (like Simon the Stylite). It is the call to put away everything that is offensive to God – for God lives with us and walks with us in the business of our lives. It is the call to be utterly devoted to him in all that we do. It is the call to live authentically as a child of God. It is the call to be different from the world around us; to be those who remodel the world in the shape of the kingdom rather than simply being shaped by the world in which we live.

Working out the details of this calling is no easy matter. The details will be different for each one of us. What does it mean to be a holy politician or policeman or banker? What does it mean to be a holy musician or artist or designer? What does it mean to be a holy builder or teacher or accountant? What does it mean to be a holy comedian or writer or broadcaster? What does it mean to be a holy sportsman or journalist or clerical worker? What does it mean to be a holy businessman or employer or soldier? What does it mean to be a holy lawyer or architect or gardener? We need to be careful to avoid quick judgments about others but rather to pray for one another. Above all, we need to ask, “What does it mean for me to be holy? What does it mean for me to perfect holiness in the fear of God?”

In particular, we need to be careful to avoid false views of holiness. Paul quotes the call of God, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17, cf. Isaiah 52:11). It’s easy to turn this call for separation into a call to isolation – “Don’t have anything to do with non-Christians.” But our supreme model of a holy human life is that of the Lord Jesus. He was, and is, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). But his was not a physical separation. He gladly came from glory to live among us – he is God who walks among us. He was often found in the company of those whom the respectable world viewed as outcasts and sinners.

We need to learn to be holy as Jesus Christ was (and is) holy. To live a life of uncompromising devotion to God which is nevertheless attractive to those around us. We are called to live a holy life because God walks among us and calls us his children. We need to walk with God in a world that is alienated from him, encouraging those around us to come and know God through Jesus Christ; to enter the embrace of the God who does not stand apart from us but who has become one of us.

Holy Father, teach me what it means to live a holy life in all I think and say and do, that I may live as one who is conscious that you live with me and walk with me through all the moments of my day. May I walk closely with you this day, bringing your presence into every conversation and everything I do.

Peter Misselbrook