The Non-Transferability of Holiness

We live in a time when parents across the United States are rethinking the education of their children. Some have gone in the direction of homeschooling (especially during the COVID period), while others have taken their children out of public schools and enrolled them in Christian private schools (in part because of fear of indoctrination concerning gender identity). Then there are those who experimented with homeschooling and found the task too difficult and placed their children in public school. You can say I’m a product of all three approaches (public school, homeschool and private school) and have experimented with all three for my children.

Most of my schooling took place in a public school context, though I studied for one year in a Catholic private school in Brazil and for one year (my senior year) in a Seventh-day Adventist School in Oklahoma. In my journey, I discovered just how vital a role schools play in shaping the life of a person. Having said this, there are two other institutions that are just as (if not more) crucial—home and church. In fact, I believe a child who is raised in a healthy home and church will be more likely to follow Jesus in adulthood having studied in a public school than one who attends a Christian school for twelve years and yet doesn’t come from a healthy home and /or church. But this is not to diminish the importance of Christian education. We need this option, and for many kids, it is certainly the best option. 

But parents/guardians need to keep in mind that enrollment in a Christian school is no guarantee a child will automatically become a Christian. I will even venture to say that membership in a church is no guarantee that a person will be a committed follower of Jesus. There is also no guarantee that a person admitted to a hospital will be healed from their disease. Physical and spiritual health, unlike disease and sin, are not transferable. It is easy to pass on a contagious disease like COVID by having contact with a sick person, but a healthy person can never pass on health through contact with a sick person. This theological truth is illustrated in the book of Haggai. 

As the remnant of Judah that had returned from Babylonian exile was engaged in the difficult task of rebuilding their temple, the prophet Haggai asked the priests the following rhetorical question, “If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?” The priests’ answer was a unanimous No. This was followed by another rhetorical question, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The answer this time was unanimous Yes (Hag 2:10-14). 

Haggai’s exchange with the priests assumes knowledge of the various Levitical laws regarding clean and unclean. But the main point he was communicating was that while impurity is transferable, holiness is not. The prophet was trying to correct the false idea that their worship and service to God were made pure and acceptable as a result of merely having contact with the ordained priesthood or the temple. 

Healing comes through Jesus, and Jesus may be found in a church, a home, or a school. May God make our homes, schools and churches places of healing and spiritual transformation for all people. 

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