Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial*? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them,
and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
*Belial is a biblical personification of lawlessness and recklessness.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (New International Version)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate today, delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington. Our eyes are again focused on Washington, D.C. God has a dream that he plants in the hearts of those who follow Jesus. In God’s dream, we are ourselves temples of holiness, undefiled by idols. In this lectionary passage for January 18, we are admonished to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit.
On this day, in this land where we have lived so long with a vision that our nation was built on religious freedom, but also with a reality that it was built of the land, life, and labor of indigenous peoples and of slaves; how are we to purify ourselves of the legacies of trauma inflicted and trauma incurred? Our faith teaches the lessons we need. Jesus modeled being in relationships with others. Jesus modeled naming truth. Jesus modeled spending time in prayer. Jesus even gave us the prayer to pray of the Lord’s Prayer. Let us shed that which defiles us, through confession and the difficult work of purification through deeper relationships with one another.
Let us purge our lives of defiling idols including nationalism over the teaching of Jesus, silence, and complicity. May God walk with us as we build the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Please pray with me the Lord’s prayer in the words and language that most deeply connect you with God. Amen.