There is a concept in the Grace chapter of Yancey's book -- the one I discussion yesterday -- that I really like. The Jews in the time of Jesus were very afraid of becoming unclean. By following the ritual food laws, by maintaining their distance from those they considered to be untouchable (as I talked about yesterday), they were attempting to make themselves acceptable to God.
What was interesting to me was that the way in which Yancey described that Jesus turned this concept upside down. When Jesus touched a person with leprosy, that person was healed instead of Jesus becoming unclean. When Jesus touched the dead body, instead of becoming unclean, Jesus resurrected the body. Yancey quotes Walter Wink, who said, "the contagion of holiness overcomes the contagion of uncleanness."
I read a post today by Brian Russell, who defines holiness as "refecting the character of God." The journey to holiness is transformational. God touches us and changes us.
Isn't that an interesting and important difference? The Jews of Jesus day were attempting to become acceptable to God by what they could do. On this side of the cross, Jesus touches us, God touches us, and transforms us into a holy people, acceptable to God.