‘If one of you is carrying some meat from a holy sacrifice in his robes and his robe happens to brush against some bread or stew, wine or olive oil, or any other kind of food, will it also become holy?'” The priests replied, “No.”
Then Haggai asked, “If someone becomes ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person and then touches any of these foods, will the food be defiled?” And the priests answered, “Yes.”
Haggai 2:12-13 NLT
These two verses used to trouble me. After all, I thought, that’s not right. It ought to be the other way around: you ought to be able to “catch” holiness, and not “catch” sin. But recently I thought about a very simple analogy with the physical world: if you are healthy and hang around sick people, are you likely to become infected? Yes, you are. Oh, you can take special steps and maybe – maybe, I say – you can avoid getting that sickness, but the odds are, as we have seen with the recent pandemic, you’re going to “catch” that disease.
But suppose you are sick, so you decide to go hang around healthy people. Will you “catch” health? No. Health is not “catching.” Now, maybe, by staying away from other sick people, and only associating with healthy people your sickness will go away, but it won’t be because you “caught” their health.
Do you see the analogy? It is pretty amazing. Sin is “catching.” Oh, not in the sense that there is a sin bacterium, but all you have to do is to hang around sinful people, and the long odds are that you will soon be just like them. On the other hand, just hanging out with Christlike people does not make you holy – Christlike. Why not? Well, it is like health. Yes, we can promote health, we can do everything possible to create healthy environments, but the truth is: you have to choose to be healthy. You don’t just catch it. In the same way, to be holy, you have to choose it. You have to find a holy environment; you have to cultivate holy habits; you have to hang out with holy people; but most of all, you have to sell out to the Holy One. You have to liquidate every asset you have to get the Pearl of Great Price. Do you want to be like Jesus or not? It’s your choice. It won’t just happen.