Have you become a connoisseur of hand sanitizer this year, or is it just me? Recently I was in Shellharbour shopping centre and within the space of about half an hour I had sanitized my hands half a dozen times, at different shops. I’m finding I have preferences. The Target sanitizer, for what it’s worth, has a pleasant botanic aroma.
The point of the sanitizer isn’t to please my nostrils of course. It’s to protect the shop. It’s to (try to) ensure that nothing unclean enters the space. Target, to use religious language, is ‘holy ground’. Nothing unclean shall pass through their doors! That’s wishful thinking, of course. Just because my hands are clean doesn’t mean that my whole body is. Or even that my hands will stay clean, for that matter.
It’s a good metaphor for what the Bible teaches about ‘holiness’. The Bible teaches that God is ‘holy’ – meaning that He is special, perfect, pure, and completely without flaw. The opposite to me, in other words! And so from the moment Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden of Eden, the story of the Bible is about how unholy people can still be in the presence of a holy God. So what is the ‘sanitizer’ that can clean me up to enter God’s presence, for eternity?
The sanitizer is Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we read that “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin”. No amount of ‘rule-keeping’ will remove our sin. Keeping religious traditions won’t clean up our hearts. And yet God, in his mercy and kindness, has given us what we need – in Jesus – to be cleaned up once and for all. Jesus is the sanitizer we need. Faith is (to push the metaphor) to pump the bottle and apply it to our lives!