Set asides

Christians sometimes make things more complicated than they should be. They use religi-speak instead of ordinary English, muddling up the plain meaning of some basic concepts.

“Holy” is one of those. In the Old Testament, the definition is simple and clear – set aside for a single purpose.

Something doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be holy – just dedicated for a single purpose. Like a dedicated phone line connected to a computer.

One key in my pocket fits my front door. It doesn’t fit the ignition in my car or a safety deposit box at the bank. It has a single purpose: to lock and unlock my front door. Not everybody’s front door – just my front door.

God assigned Aaron and his sons to a specific task that no-one else was given. They were not assigned to be soldiers or farm hands. God gave them the job of priest, with a single purpose: protect the children of Israel from God himself. If they didn’t do their job, God’s presence in their midst would prove deadly.

Because God planned to come and reside inside their camp, and the essence of his presence was not compatible with contaminated creatures.

Before he could come, they would need a shield from his presence. The work of the priests, making animal sacrifices to obtain blood to create a barrier, would shield them. That blood and the intention of its use – payment, forgiveness, mercy – would protect them. Much like a lead apron shields and protects the x-ray technician in the radiology department. And so Aaron and his sons were set aside from the other tribes of Israel for this one single purpose.

In the New Testament, the word for “holy” still means set apart for a single purpose, but the definition also carries the connotation of “pure.”

100% one thing, not contaminated, not mixed with anything else, whole. Not pure human, however – pure good. 100% good, the way God defines it. No wrongdoing. No sin. No contamination.

Pure gold is 100% gold. That sounds great, but you can’t make jewelry from pure gold, it is too soft to be usable. Even diamonds aren’t 100% pure, there’s some tiny flaw somewhere. That’s why there are so many classifications of diamonds, so many price ranges.

Jesus said, there is none good but God. Nothing on this planet is 100% pure and nothing is 100% good, except God. But I Peter 1:15-16 tells us to be holy. How can God expect us to be holy, if that means 100% good?

He doesn’t, not in our own ability if that was even possible. What he does desire is that we agree to be set aside for a single purpose, like Aaron and his sons. Set aside for God’s purpose, his use and no-one else’s.

The purpose of our agreement to this request (accepting the blood sacrifice of Christ) is simple: it permits God in the person of the Holy Spirit to reside in us. He himself will provide our protection and prevent his presence from destroying us. He’ll improve us as we go along. He created the human race; he doesn’t want it obliterated.

Seen this way, being holy makes perfect sense to me, perfect, practical and wonderful.

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Fascination

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Have you noticed how many vampire movies and television series there are in recent years? How many books? How many internet sites? Fan clubs?

There’s always been a fascination with the supernatural or unnatural, but it seems to have expanded, deepened and widened, with the coming of the digital age.

I have now watched Twilight (the first movie) twice, read all the Twilight books once and have re-started reading them. I also bought and have now watched the first season DVD’s of the Canadian television series “Blood Ties.” Two more TV series about vampires will be starting up in the fall, plus movie #2 of the Twilight saga.

I understand this fascination very, very well. I’ve loved science fiction and science fantasy since I learned to read.

There is an unseen spiritual dimension all around us, and a battle of good versus evil goes on in that dimension just as it does in the seen one. One day, perhaps sooner than we realize, there may be an unveiling of our normal vision and we will clearly see, however unwillingly, what is happening there.

In coming days, will we see actual vampires? Or werewolves? I don’t know. But supernatural and unnatural creatures certainly do exist, demonic beings who don’t like human beings. I’ve had brushes with creatures from that dimension in the past. I still feel the chill when I remember…

Occasionally people get a glimpse of their handiwork, the results of it anyway. Occasionally we feel or sense something “not quite right” in a place, or in the face of an individual and we wonder what the problem is. The problem in a nutshell is – the evil ones are killers, liars and murderers, and they don’t like human beings.

One thing I’m doing is keeping my spiritual eyes and ears open more and more these days, watching and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

The times are changing. It would be wise for believers to discern the times.