Our Great Intersectional High Priest and his #MeToo Moment

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).  

I’m convinced that the ability of our great high priest to sympathise has something very important to say to our world today. I don’t know if you’ve noticed how divided we’re getting into separate identities. A common buzzword you hear today is “intersectionality”; this is the idea that some people can experience overlapping forms of discrimination e.g. a black woman can experience both racism and sexism at the same time, and so is worse off than both black men and white women. A flip side to this is the idea of “white male privilege”, which means that I, as a white, male, am at the top of the pile of privilege. Now, I think both concepts have some validity; I am very privileged (though I think there are many white males living in England that haven’t had anywhere near as much opportunity as me). Likewise, some people do experience discrimination at multiple levels too. But these ideas can be milked in all kinds of unhelpful ways. There’s this growing sense that we can’t really understand each other, e.g. “You can’t know what it’s like to be me, because you’re a white male”. I’ve had people tell me: “You’re not qualified to give a talk on homosexuality, unless you’ve experienced it yourself…”. It can feed into a culture of victimhood, where your experience of “hurt” and “pain” somehow gives you a special, protected status, into which others on the outside cannot speak.

Here’s the problem with that:  it disqualifies Jesus from being our great high priest. You see, is Jesus not qualified to sympathize with women then? Do you need a female Saviour? After all, Jesus didn’t take a female human nature, did he? He’s the man Christ Jesus. Is Jesus not qualified to sympathize with those who’ve experienced racism? After all, he was a Jew living in Palestine – he wasn’t exactly part of an ethnic minority! This can extend in all kinds of directions: Jesus didn’t experience a miscarriage, did he, so how can he sympathise with couples who have? Jesus didn’t suffer sexual abuse, so how can he sympathise with those struggling to come to terms with their abuse?

Christ’s incarnation forces us to re-think human nature. Human nature is nowhere near as divided as our world likes to tell us. You can’t split up human nature into all these different identities that can’t understand each other. Gender is much less significant than we are led to believe. Ethnicity is much less significant than we are led to believe. Our Lord is truly qualified to sympathize with us in all our “weaknesses”, and has been tempted “in every respect… as we are, yet without sin”.

Isn’t the point here that Jesus says: “#MeToo”? Whatever form your “weakness” takes, whatever guise your “temptation” comes in, Jesus can say: “#MeToo”. Hebrews 4:15 is his MeToo moment. The particularities of your temptation may look different to Jesus; for example, Jesus did not experience homosexual urges, but he did experience strong temptation to let his powerful bodily desires get the better of him (Matt 4:3). He didn’t experience the pain of going through a divorce, but he did experience the pain of betrayal and having relationships ripped apart. So, this feeling that “I’m all alone!” – that “no one gets me” – “no one understands me!” – is devilish! Certainly, as Christians, we need to develop sensitivity to one another’s experiences; sure, we need to grow in sympathy and hear what’s unique about each other’s situations, but we mustn’t start playing the games of this world. Let’s not start telling ourselves that our brothers and sisters cannot understand us – that we can’t know what one another are going through. It’s not true that I have to have been through it, to be able to sympathize and genuinely relate! Otherwise, we’ve disqualified Christ as our great high priest. Instead, as we see the splits and divisions created by sin all around us, let’s share the good news of Jesus Christ, our great, intersectional high priest and his #MeToo moment, who, in his one person, can answer and heal them all.

Two books that are more important than the Bible

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12, 15).

Growing up, I used to sing a Sunday School song called: “The best book to read is the Bible”. I’m still absolutely convinced that’s right. But Revelation 20 tells us about two other books that are written by God. They are not books we’re able to read yet. We’ll only get to read them on Judgment Day, but God wants us to be aware of them. And, in some ways, these two books are more important than the Bible. What are they?

i) The book of records. It’s not actually called that in v.12, and it’s actually a multi-volume book, but this book contains records of all that we’ve ever done in our lives. That’s hard to get our minds around and it’s sobering. I’ve done enough stuff in the 37 years I’ve been alive to fill 32 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Everything we do of moral significance is recorded and will be considered on Judgment Day. And, if we take a moment to think, it includes a lot of uncomfortable, sinful material that we would dread to see the light of day. Right now, this book is being written and updated. In the last 24 hours, more text has been added under an entry with your name on it.

ii) The book of life. This book is much slimmer than the book of records and is much simpler. It simply contains a list of names. It’s either a Yes or No. Your name is either there or it’s not. Finding your name entered in this book means you’re saved and you’re safe for eternity. If your name’s not in there, Revelation says you’ll be “thrown into the lake of fire”. But while that book is not read out until Judgment Day, Jesus has been sent so that we can know our names are written there. Jesus told his disciples to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). If the book of records is all about what I do, the book of life is its opposite. I have no control over its contents; in Christ, I simply find my name is there.

Sometimes as Christians, we can think that salvation by grace means how I live doesn’t matter. That’s like thinking that the book of life simply cancels out the book of records; the gospel invalidates or permanently deletes the book of records. But that’s not what’s happening in Revelation 20, is it? On Judgment Day, Revelation 20 says both books will be opened. We’re quite clearly going to be “judged by what was written in the books”. So, on what basis will I be judged? By my works or by God’s grace? This scene in Revelation shows that my complicated, detailed life will be “read” in the light of the book of life. God’s gracious book of life will be used to interpret the book of records. In other words, in the gospel, these two sources of judgment are not in conflict, but harmonise. The entry of my name in the book of life secures my salvation – it is all down to Jesus, first and last – but not in a way that invalidates the moral significance of my life.

So, remembering these two other books is critical for good Bible reading. As you read your Bible, remember the book of life. Only in Jesus Christ will you know your name is entered there. And as you read your Bible, remember the book of records, and know that, in Christ, your good works really matter. At the end of the day, Bible reading that forgets these two others books will be worthless.

A “full diet” of prayer

At men’s breakfast recently, we were thinking about men leading in prayer. One of the ideas I talked about was the importance of praying a “full diet” of prayer, when we’re leading in prayer. But this idea is also very relevant for our own private prayer lives.  When we’re finding prayer hard, one thing Christians sometimes do is to try and inject some creativity into their prayer time. “Light a candle. Draw some pictures. Get expressive. Turn it into a craft session, with colouring pens, and scissors”. I don’t recommend that. Those things are like looking for the equivalent of sugar rush. What we actually need is to be committed to a “full diet” of prayers.

The Bible is crammed with examples of prayer for us to learn from:

There are prayers of adoration. Psalms 146-150 each begin and end with “Praise the Lord!”. The heavenly worship in Revelation includes pure adoration: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). This type of prayer is like your spiritual meat. It’s spending time focussing on the character of our great Triune God and is like protein for your soul.

There are prayers of confession. Daniel humbled himself in Daniel 9, after reading God’s promises to Jeremiah, and prayed a big prayer of confession. Ezra does something similar in Ezra 9. The people of God spend a quarter of the day confessing their sins in Nehemiah 9. Maybe this kind of prayer is like eating your greens; it’s less popular or easy, but really important for our ongoing spiritual health. God wants us to keep short accounts with him, and the Spirit humbles us all the days of our life (Rom 7:24).

There are prayers of thanksgiving. David prayed a prayer of thanksgiving “on the day the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul” (2 Samuel 22). In this type of prayer, we take time to thank God for the good things he’s given us. Regularly taking time to name the good things we’ve received from him is an important part of our diet. I particularly know I’m capable of being ungrateful, and need to be more deliberate here.

There are prayers of supplication.This is the bread and potatoes of Christian prayer. It means simply asking God for things. We should pray prayers of supplication for ourselves, and for others. We should pray for our families, for our church, for our neighbours, for our denomination, for our country, for the church through the world, and for the world. Even here, maybe we need to learn to switch from white bread to brown-bread, or from mashed potato to eating the potato with the skins on! We should aim to line up the things we ask for with the things the Bible asks for (e.g. Luke 11:2-4; Eph 1:16-21).

The Bible really is packed with spiritually nutritious prayers. If you told a nutritionist that you only ever eat starch in your diet, they’d tell you to change what you eat. Why? because a well-balanced diet is important for your health. Well, the same is true for us spiritually. Why not take some time to think: which of these types of prayer are lacking from my regular spiritual diet? Which ones do I need to introduce into my regular praying? Rather than seeking a spiritual sugar rush, aim to pray a “full diet” of prayers.

Does God speak audibly today?

The Preaching of Knox before the Lords of the Congregation, 10th June 1559 1832 Sir David Wilkie 1785-1841 Purchased 1871 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00894

I just watched this short video by J. D. Greear, the head of the Southern Baptists on whether God speaks audibly today. His basic answer was a reluctant “no!”. God still speaks to us in the Bible, Greear says, but we should be very wary of thinking he speaks audibly anymore.

It’s funny, because he’d describe himself as a “charismatic with a seatbelt” and I’d describe myself as a “cessationist”, yet, I would answer that same question with an emphatic “yes!”. “Yes! God does speak audibly to us today!”.

When? Where? How? Every time you hear a faithful, called and sent Christian preacher, who preaches the Scriptures to you! I really think the Bible teaches us to view the faithful preaching of Christian ministers as the word of God! That voice you hear in sermons on Sundays isn’t just my voice. It’s the voice of Christ to you. If you want some Bible verses to base that off I’d say: Matthew 23:8 & 10; John 10:3-5; Eph 2:17. If you can’t see their relevance, do ask me to unpack them more for you some time. This doesn’t mean preachers can’t get it wrong and are six feet above contradiction. But it means you should develop a reverent attitude to the Word preached as the way Christ has designed to speak to you today. Sundays aren’t just Simon teaching us some stuff from the Bible. They are Christ speaking audibly to us.

In case you think I’ve gone all heretical, let me quote John Calvin as back up:

“It is a singular privilege that he [God] deigns to consecrate to himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that his voice may resound in them”. (Christian Institutes, Book IV, chapter 1, part 5).

Now, I think the different answers that J. D. Greear and I give to the question: “Does God speak audibly today?” are actually quite significant. It shows how the historic Reformed “cessationist” position, when properly understood, actually makes us much more conscious of God’s speech to us today than a “charismatic” position. Ironically, it’s a charismatic emphasis on extra and new revelation from God that actually makes churches less conscious of God speaking to us today in the regular preaching of the Word. 

But I’m not trying to score cheap points. Rather, isn’t this good news?! God is speaking to us audibly today when the church gathers around the reading and preaching of his Word. The preacher’s voice may not sound very exciting, but remember that resounding in that human voice is another voice, the voice which spoke the heavens and earth into being! Now, you’d have to be pretty stupid to actually close your ears to God when he was talking directly to you, wouldn’t you? Yet, is that what we’re doing, when we ignore the preaching of his Word? Why not stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • how might this change my desire to be present at preaching?
  • how might this affect my desire to keep listening during preaching?
  • how might this affect my reaction to things I don’t agree with in preaching?

Does God speak audibly today? The Reformed churches want to say “Yes, yes, yes!”

What makes a good Christmas carol?

I’m sure we could draw up a list of answers to that question, but underlying them all is one bigger answer. It’s something called: Chalcedonian Christology.

You probably think, “what on earth is that?!”. I know it’s a mouthful. Don’t worry: it’s not a phrase you need to learn, but it refers to the Chalcedonian Creed, which is a creed written in 451 AD in Turkey (you can read it here). Very simply, in the Chalcedonian Creed, the church confessed how the Godhead and the manhood of Christ relate together.

The answer the church gave was something that the typical man finds hard to do! They said: when it comes to Christ, you have to think two thoughts at the same time. Now, being a man, I find that hard to do! My brain struggles to handle lots of thoughts at the same time! But this ability is what the Chalcedonian Creed wants to teach us and is at the heart of all good Christmas carols.

Here are the two thoughts:

Thought 1. The identity of this person is “God of God, Light of Light”. In other words, Jesus is the only begotten Son, without beginning and without end. He’s not to be confused with the Father or the Holy Spirit, but together with them is to be worshipped and glorified, as the one true God. This is why Thomas says to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). This is why the wise men fell down and worshipped him (Matthew 2:11). This is why the angels are commanded to worship him (Heb 1:6).

Thought 2. This Son becomes true man. He unites to himself a real human body, with specific DNA and a genome. He takes to himself a real human soul, with a mind, and emotions and feelings. This real human being was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary. He was born in the ordinary way. He developed normally through infancy and toddler years, learning language by listening to his parents, learning to sit up and walk (Luke 2:40, 52). This true man is weak, needy, and dependent. This is why he could say: “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

Chalcedon teaches us that we have to think these two thoughts together when we think of Christ. In other words, thought 2 doesn’t cancel out thought 1, or replace it. Jesus’ Godhead isn’t lost or watered down by his manhood. The two go together at the same time.

I know it’s possible to talk about Jesus like we’re dissecting a frog. We can dissect his two natures, like a frog’s anatomy, which is all very interesting, but the frog is dead! But, Chalcedonian Christology isn’t doing this. It’s more like a science experiment in which you take a plastic film canister and half fill it with water. You then put an Alka-Seltzer tablet inside the film canister, quickly put the cap on, and place it top-side down on the ground while backing away. The result should be an explosion, in which the film canister turns into a rocket and launches into the sky! When you put the water and the Alka-Seltzer tablet together they create an explosion. Chalcedonian Christology is like that. Put those two thoughts about Christ together and you have some rocket fuel! The Godhead of Christ alone isn’t enough. The manhood of Christ alone isn’t enough. It’s the two combined, in one person, without confusion or separation, that produces cracking Christmas carols, that really take off.

So, for example, watch how Charles Wesley puts the two natures of Christ together in his Carol: “Glory be to God on high”

Glory be to God on high,

and peace on earth descend:

God (Thought 1) comes down (Thought 2), He bows the sky,

And shows himself our friend:

God the invisible (Thought 1) appears (Thought 2):

God, the blest, the great I AM (Thought 1),

Sojourns in this vale of tears (Thought 2),

And Jesus is his name”




Him the angels all adored,

Their maker and their king; (Thought 1)

Tidings of their humbled (Thought 2) Lord (Thought 1)

They now to mortals bring.

Emptied (Thought 2) of his majesty (Thought 1)

Of his dazzling glories (Thought 1) shorn (Thought 2),

being’s source (Thought 1) begins to be (Thought 2),

and God himself (Thought 1) is born! (Thought 2)




See the eternal Son of God (Thought 1)

a mortal Son of Man; (Thought 2)

dwelling in an earthly clod (Thought 2),

whom heaven cannot contain (Thought 1).


It’s that explosive combination of Chalcedonian Christology that makes good Christmas carols. Training yourself to think these two thoughts about Jesus at the same time will greatly add to your desire to worship him.

 

The bravery of faithfulness

I think the lady in this quote puts her finger on something very important.

“I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life. And what I’m slowly realising is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two-year old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village. What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on the average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it…

…I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure anymore just what God counts as radical. And I suspect that for me, getting up and doing the dishes when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more costly and necessitates more of a revolution in my heart than some of the more outwardly risky ways I’ve lived in the past. And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day – an afternoon with a colicky baby where I’m probably going to snap at my two-year old and get annoyed with my noisy neighbour – without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me… and that that is enough” (quoted in Ordinary, by Michael Horton, p.15 & 20)

I know we’re not all mothers, but we all have large parts of our day which are very ordinary, and it’s in our handling of those large chunks, day in, day out, that the battle for godliness is fought. “The fruit of the Spirit is… faithfulness” (Gal 5:22).

Not at the prayer meeting – presumed dead

Acts 2:42 tells us: “They devoted themselves to… the prayers”. What could that kind of devoted commitment to the prayers of the church look like for you? Here’s a lovely example of a Christian’s commitment to the prayer meeting, reported by Charles Spurgeon’s little brother, James Spurgeon:

There never was a prayer-meeting held without Mrs. W—— being present. Whether I was there or not, she was. Once, about six months ago, she was absent; but when I asked her where she had been, she said:
I came there, and put the books down, although I could not stop to the meeting.
She had come to the chapel, and reported herself, and then gone off to see someone who was ill. That was the only time I ever knew her to be away from a prayer-meeting until last Sunday evening, when I missed her again. I asked my deacons if they had seen her, or heard anything of her, and they said:
We do not know where she is, but she was not with us last Friday night, at the prayer-meeting.
I said that I was sure she was dead, for if she had been alive she would have been certain to have been at the prayer-meeting. Nobody questioned what I said. All felt with me that she would not have missed two consecutive prayer-meetings unless she had been dead, or too ill to leave her house. During the evening service one of the deacons went off to where she lived all by herself, and, not being able to make anybody hear, he obtained assistance, and broke into the house. There he found just what we expected; she was there, upon her knees, dead, in her little parlour, and she must have died in great suffering, and in the act of praying to God.
She was a remarkable character. She visited and gave away tracts in the worst street in Croydon, and she had a singularly happy way of getting hold of very wicked people, to whom she would tell the story of her own life, and say that she used to be just like them, but by the grace of God she had been converted, and that grace which had done so much for her could do the same for them.
There is a story told as an instance of the pranks that used to be played upon her. A young man thought that he would frighten her; so he dressed himself up as nearly like the devil as his imagination enabled him to do, and when she knocked at his door, he opened it, and called out:
I am the devil,
and began to shout at her. Without being at all alarmed, she quietly put on her glasses, and looked him up and down, and said:
You ain’t the devil, you are only one of his children.
I thought the old lady had the best of it that time. I asked her if she ever saw him again, and she replied:
Oh dear, no! He just put his head in, and went off.
We shall sorely miss her; our prayer-meetings will have a blank through Mrs. W——’s absence that we shall not easily make up. I hope some of you will be such constant attendants at the prayer-meeting that if you are absent twice we shall say of you:
I am sure our brother or sister must be dead,
although we do not want to have you departing from us so suddenly as did our good friend at Croydon.

(Taken from The Sword and Trowel: 1884 pages 89 – 90)

I know that London life is much busier for us today than it was in Victorian London. And I know we can’t do everything.  But I am convinced that the church prayer meeting is much more telling as to the real health of our church than what you see on Sundays. Luther says somewhere: “as it is the business of cobblers to make shoes, and tailors to make clothes, so it is the business of Christians to pray”.  Let’s encourage each other to come along, to share our needs, and spread them before our Father in heaven.

“They devoted themselves to… the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

 

Which “news” matters more: Ariana Grande or the evangelical church?

If you open up the BBC website, or look at the news in your Facebook feeds, most of the headlines you see tell you about trivia, like “Five people called the Met Police 8,655 times”, “How do you justify selling a £2 T-shirt?”, and “Athlete bitter over mesh that almost ended career”. If we let the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, or Al-Jazeera tell us what matters in the world, we’ll quickly discover the church of Christ doesn’t make the cut. I remember when the Guardian website removed the “religion” tab from their homepage. On the BBC website, you can find stories grouped around Politics, Business, Health, Tech, Science, Family & Education, Entertainment & Arts, but nothing on religion! Religion has become invisible.

This isn’t how the Bible wants us to look at the world. As Brad Bitner helpfully reminded us on Sunday, from Psalm 87, the city that matters more than any other isn’t London, New York, or Tokyo, but the city of Zion (a picture of Christ’s church). That city will last forever. Christ’s church should interest us more than anything else.

There’s a great moment in the book of Nehemiah, when Nehemiah is far away in the capital of Persia and meets some Jews. He writes in 1.2: “I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile”. That’s the news Nehemiah really wanted to know. The news he really wanted to hear was what was happening in Zion. That’s what the Bible wants to teach us. We should care much more about how the evangelical church is doing in England or any other part of the world than the latest irrelevance about Ariana Grande!

Here are some links that give helpful news and comment from a Christian perspective with a high view of the Bible. Why not set one of them as your homepage?

Evangelicals Now – a monthly newspaper, edited by John Benton, filling you in on things happening in the British church scene and abroad.

Evangelical Times – another monthly newspaper, edited by Roger Faye, a minister up in Yorkshire.

Affinity – Affinity is a grouping of conservative evangelical churches that formed under the influence of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It represented the desire for church unity between Christians rooted in a shared commitment to the gospel and God’s word (in contrast to the ecumenical movement, which promoted unity at the expense of truth).

 

Noah gets baptized

On Sunday afternoon, we looked at Genesis 7, which tells us: “The flood is coming! Enter the ark!”. We saw that Noah’s flood is a picture of God’s coming judgment and of Jesus Christ as the only way of escape. Jesus’ salvation takes the form of an ark – an uncomfortable, smelly ark – otherwise known as the church!

I had to leave this out of my sermon because of time. But in 1 Peter 3:20-21, the apostle Peter connects the waters of the flood with the waters of baptism:

“in [the ark]… a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  Baptism… corresponds to this”

That means we can say: Noah was the first person to be baptised in the Bible.

This is interesting for at least 2 reasons:

i) it’s a great way to think about our own baptisms. Just as Noah was safe from God’s judgment waters in the ark, my baptism is here to tell me I’m safe from God’s judgment waters thanks to Christ. We need to use our baptisms more and put them to work. We’re not Roman Catholics who think baptism works magically, but nor are our baptisms meant to be a forgettable moment in our history. Our baptisms are designed to help us face the coming flood with a sense of security and confidence in Christ. My baptism points me to Christ and tells me: “you’re in the ark; you’re safe”.

ii) the first baptism in the Bible was a household baptism. The text flags this up: “Go into the ark, you and all our household” (Gen 7:1). Noah didn’t get baptised by himself. His whole family got baptised at the same time. Noah and his wife, his 3 sons and their wives. Now, clearly, his family didn’t include any infants; they were all married, after all. But it’s still striking, isn’t it? In Acts, Lydia believes and we’re told “she was baptized, and her household as well” (16:15). When the Philippian jailor believes “he was baptized at once, he and all his family (16:33). From the earliest days, God’s taught his people to raise their children inside, not outside, the covenant. That’s why we baptise the children of believers at All Nations Church Ilford. It’s not just an empty gesture, but a claiming of God’s promise to us and our children.

If you’d like to think more about bringing up our children in faith not fear, here’s a great article by a minister in Scotland called William Still.

The event of Noah’s ark and the flood is a very sobering, clarifying story. Our baptisms are designed to slot us into that story and to love Christ and his ark even more.

 

What’s the opposite of holy?

Q. What’s the opposite of light?

A. Darkness.

Q. What’s the opposite of male?

A. Female.

Q. What’s the opposite of Jew?

A. Gentile.

Q. What’s the opposite of holy?

A….

Go on. What do you say?

I expect the answer most of us instinctively give is “sinful”. That’s not a bad answer, but if that’s all we think, we’ll probably get ourselves into trouble. For example, that answer runs into trouble with the Sabbath. When God says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8), God isn’t saying your Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are sinful. Or when Paul calls them the “holy Scriptures” (2 Tim 3:15) he’s not saying all the other literature on your bookshelves is sinful. In both these uses of the word “holy”, the opposite isn’t “sin”, but “common”. The “holy” is something which has a special connection to God, in a way that the common doesn’t. The common is still good. We can still glorify God in the common things, but the holy things are sacred; they have a special quality, and a special status. The Sabbath day is holy time. The Bible is holy text.

Leviticus 10:10 told the priests: “You are to distinguish between the holy and the common”.

But this is a distinction which many Christians today have trouble with and could do with re-learning. We can think the “holy” is just an old covenant idea that has been cancelled by Christ. But this distinction pre-dates sin. In man’s innocence, there was a difference between the Sabbath and other days of the week, between the Garden of Eden and the rest of the earth, between the two trees in the midst of the Garden and all the other trees.  In God’s world, some things are common and other things are holy. Not everything is the same. So, it’s right when we come to church to realise something holy is going on. We should treat it differently to everything else in our week. We shouldn’t treat “the table of the Lord” (1 Cor 10:21) in the same way as our table (1 Cor 11:34). But that doesn’t mean our taxi-driving, or our cleaning, or parenting, or music-making are not areas of service to God. Realising that the opposite of holy isn’t sin, but the common, will help us glorify God in both areas of our lives, without confusing them.