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The failures of ancient Israel brought dishonour on God’s name among other nations (v 22). In the same way the way we behave in Christian churches can add fuel to the attacks of atheists against God.
However, as God promised to show the holiness of his great name by delivering his people from exile (vv 23,24), so also he promises to revive his church. Let’s pray that his holy otherness will be so powerfully visible in the world that even Richard Dawkins might one day say, “God is really among you!”
How awesome! How frightening! And how problematic! For in stark contrast to the biblical picture of “the Holy One,” the popular imagination thinks of God as little more than a benign, somewhat larger than life Santa Claus.
For Ezekiel, holiness is the very essence of what it means to be God. He is sovereign and transcendent. Glory streams from his presence.
God calls us also to be holy. That means right living in obedience to Jesus Christ. Sadly, we too often confuse our discipleship with a quest for happiness. For while we profess to know God, in practice we allow the contemporary idols of consumerism, self-help and self-fulfillment to have a higher claim on us. Like ancient Israel, our Achilles’ heel is idolatry (compare vv 18,25).
In spite of this, we can communicate God’s holiness. How? By showing in the way we live how the Holy Spirit has changed us (vs 25–27). He gives us a new heart, delivering us from our self-obsession and moving us to live in ways that communicate a sense of God’s intense purity to those around us. Ask God’s Spirit to make you a carrier of divine holiness.
Holy Father, May I know what it means to say that Jesus is Lord. May your influence in my life be visible to the people around me as you transform the way I live. For Jesus’ sake, who died for me, Amen.
First used in Encounter with God, April – June 2015, written by Fergus Macdonald, copyright Scripture Union. Used with kind permission.