When they return to the outer courtyard where the people are, they must take off the clothes they wear while ministering to me. They must leave them in the sacred rooms and put on other clothes so they do not endanger anyone by transmitting holiness to them through this clothing. —Ezekiel 44:19 NLT
Think of the message of this verse. God is warning the priests to be careful because when you have been in God’s presence, you are contagious and you can be dangerous. That is profound in its simplicity. God is saying the closer we are to him, the more likely we are to rub off on those around
us. Jesus believed that. Jesus was constantly being criticized by the religious leaders of his day for hanging around with unsavory people. The religious leaders were careful about who they hung with because they didn’t want the dirt and sinfulness of others to rub off on them.
Unfortunately, that attitude didn’t die with those first-century religious leaders. Most of us Christians tend to gravitate toward other Christians. It’s easier and it feels safer to hang out with others who think and believe the same way we do.
Because of this, we’ve turned evangelism into a standalone activity. Books are written on evangelism techniques. Churches look for the latest evangelism programs.
The truth is we can’t argue people into the kingdom. In fact, we can’t even attract people to Christ. Only Christ can attract people to himself. To be attracted to him, people have to see him. He can only be seen through us; that can only happen if we look like him. The only way to look like him is to spend time in his presence.
Jesus’ pattern was simple. He started the day in the presence of the Father, and then he went out and loved people where their lives hit the ground. In that same manner he’s been rubbing off on people for two thousand years.
If we spend enough time in God’s presence, Jesus rubs off on us. As we go out and love people where they live, I think we’d be amazed at who begins rubbing off on whom.
Father, teach us to make your presence the starting point for everything in my life. Please rub off on me, so that through me, you can rub off on others.
Rev. Bruce Steffensen, Portland, Oregon
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Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked Phillips are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, 1962 edition, published by Harper Collins.