"For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]" (Ezekiel 36:24-27).
These verses remind me of a comment made by a former pastor several years ago. I don’t remember the exact world crisis that had occurred, or what had ensued in the weeks prior to her making this remark, but I have recalled it often! She said that sometimes she felt as if she wanted to move to a remote island somewhere with 100 of her favorite people and never need to have contact with “the world.” Doing that would certainly allow for separation from the daily grind, and keep one from becoming burdened with the cares of our fellow humans.
I’ve seen more than one workplace setting where the workers are out of touch with the “real world.” They have become so insulated and isolated that they can’t really figure out how the rest of the world functions. Even churches or civic organizations can become that way. That’s a negative connotation to these verses.
I believe what God intends is for us to be sanctified in His truth and made new by His mercy, redeemed by His love. And dwell in that truth, mercy and love. That’s the “separate reality” I envision when I read these verses.
We must go out into the world in which we dwell. But we don’t have to succumb to it. We don’t have to worship the world’s idols. We don’t have to become bitter and angry by the pain and suffering and cruelty in the world.
God is the anecdote for the world’s pain and suffering. Dwelling in His power allows us to be the vaccine against bitterness and lies. We walk in His statutes and keep His judgments because we have been sprinkled with God’s forgiveness, love and mercy.
Out of gratitude and joy we spread that Good News. We are not left here to our own resources. We don’t need to escape the world. We are empowered to live in it, sanctified to thrive in it, cleansed and made whole to spread the Good News to all the earth.
And we can endure it all because we know what the future holds for us. We trust and believe what awaits us at the end of time. When we believe, God takes us to himself, then sends us back to world, so we can bring others to Him.
Rather than fantasize about the 100 people with whom you would escape, decide the 100 people to whom you want to tell the Good News. And that you walk in God’s statutes and keep His judgments as you go.
Blessings on your journey,
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