“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 6:17
Yesterday evening I had a bath, and whilst I was in the bath I watched ‘Gavin and Stacey’ on the BBC’s iPlayer. After my bath, no doubt inspired by an integral part of the sit com’s story, I felt like getting an Indian takeaway, so I duly drove to my local. Whilst there, I saw an advert for a new gym that has opened in town, and so went to have a look. Although I do need to exercise more, I thought that rather than joining a new gym, I should make better use of my membership at my local swimming pool.
I’m always surprised these days that when you go swimming, you have to have a shower before you get into the pool. I don’t remember having to do that when I was a child. I guess it’s a good idea, though, since it washes all the dirt and grime off our bodies before we get into the nice, clean swimming pool.
In today’s reading, Paul emphasises one of the verses from our current Isaiah reading (Isaiah 52:11). He tells Christians that we should come out from unbelievers, that we should separate ourselves from them, and that we should touch no unclean thing. It sounds rather difficult, especially if, as most Christians do, we have friends who are not Christians! The point Paul is making, though, is that if we spend time with people who do not follow God’s path of righteousness, we risk being drawn into their sin, and being tainted by it, when we should be striving to lead pure and blameless lives. Just as a dirty person getting into a swimming pool can dirty the water and spoil it for those people who appreciate a nice, clean pool, so mingling with people who freely sin without thought of the consequences can make our thoughts, words or actions impure. It can sometimes be necessary, then, to take a stand; to not involve ourselves with people who might cause us to sin, or who might take us to an environment in which sin is routinely committed.
It’s very difficult, and I know that I am just as much at fault at this as the next person. Ultimately, it’s worth it, though. The Lord promises to receive us if we follow these three commands.