EZEKIEL 22:26: “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”
OBSERVATION: Am I being faithful to the Word of God – in my effort to be culturally relevant? As I read the book of Ezekiel I am struck by the sobering truth that as the leader goes…so go the people. Ezekiel stands among the exiled as a solitary voice calling the Nation of Judah back to the Lord. The priests who should be echoing his words have departed from the faith. They have led to the people away from the law of God and toward the worship of idols. There remained no “distinction” between the child of God and the child of idols. They had become one.
What does that have to do with me? The word “distinction” is the word that troubles me as I read this verse. Today in the church there is a great deal of emphasis on being culturally relevant to the world around us. Is it possible, in our pursuit of relevance, that we can lose our “distinction”? Is it possible to work so hard at becoming a “friend” of sinners that we cease to distinguish between the holy and the common, the unclean and the clean, and to disregard the Sabbath? How can we reach out to a broken world while continuing to be the “light” of the world?
This is the question that my heart is grappling with as I read this verse. I too am a sinner. Apart from Jesus Christ I am lost and destined to hell. The only difference in my life is that He has redeemed my by His grace. This did not happen by osmosis. This happened when I answered His call to repent and believe the Gospel of the Kingdom. This was not my work, but the work of His grace. Yet, it still required my response. And, when I responded in faith, I became a part of a new Kingdom, with a new King, and with a new way of living. I am now called to go forth as His light and through good works, empowered by His Spirit, call others to this glorious free gift of salvation. How I do this is the real question at hand.
Do I “blur” the lines between the clean and the unclean? Do I make no “distinction” between the holy and the common? What did Jesus do? He walked in perfect love and perfect truth. He did not come to judge the world. However, the very truth He spoke did judge and expose sin. So many times we have this picture that everyone just really loved Jesus. We forget that as he hung on the cross only a handful of followers remained. He was not crucified for His love. He was crucified for His truth. And yet, He loved. He loved and extended forgiveness, even as He hung on the cross. He was not bound by political, social, or religious correctness. He was bound by His call to be faithful to the truth, and His call to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom – in perfect love!
So how do I walk this out in my life? There is an important balance between truth and love. Love calls me to proclaim the truth, and truth calls me to always do it in love. The truth is not always received, nor is it always popular. Yet, the truth is the full expression of love because only the truth will lead someone to repentance and the Kingdom of God. Jesus made it clear that the way was straight and the gate was narrow that led to eternal life. He never adjusted the path or added extra doors to the gate. He alone was the way, the truth, and the life. Even in His perfect love he was hated for the truth, and He warned us that we would be too.
- “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:12-17 ESV)
I know that this word may not be popular, and may be both misunderstood and misapplied. People have done many insensitive and senseless things in the name of “truth”. Yet the call to walk in both truth and love remains. I want to be more concerned with being faithful to God’s Word than being culturally relevant and embraced. In my effort to be relevant I do not want to find myself calling the uncommon – holy, or calling the unclean – clean. Lord give me Your wisdom, love, and grace to walk as You walked. Help me to walk in both truth and love!
In Jesus Name!