Purifying ourselves is just a fancy way of saying “getting rid of the stuff that gets in the way of loving God, and loving each other.” It’s easy enough to deal with the big things, the obvious things, but what about the rest?
Imagine for a moment this pile of junk is your life. It’s a mix of bits of wood, sawdust, stones, sand, and somewhere in there is a good half cup of salt. Pretty hard to spot isn’t it?
This isn’t really something we would want to offer up to flavour anything at all. The overwhelming taste would be dust and dirt.
So how do we go about cleaning it up?
The big bits are pretty easy to pick out – they represent things like drugs, stealing, violence, adultery. Easy enough to spot, and when you get rid of them the difference is obvious.
We could try picking out the sawdust piece by piece, but it might take a while. An easier way is to filter it. We used a sieve, but God uses people, often our faith community who can help identify and pick out the things that need a bit more tidying up.
What is left in the bottom is a mixture of sand and salt. We can start to see the salt for the first time, but still wouldn’t want to add it to anything that was meant to be eaten. At this point trying to separate the two is practically impossible. We should give up. It can’t be done. It’s definitely too much work.
Under our own steam that’s certainly true, the task is overwhelming. This is where we really need God to step in and do the heavy lifting.
In scripture water is a picture of the bible, the word of God. When we start measuring our lives up against God’s word and letting it “wash” over us suddenly things start to separate, the good and the not-so-good are no longer interwoven together.
We have something that actually resembles salt – the life of God in us is finally revealed and starts to be able to bring life, flavour, healing.
God is calling us to be holy, not so we can be perfect, spotless and untouchable, but so that having been through a process of being refined and changed, we can be an example of how a life can really be turned around.