I used a picture yesterday and I’m using the main part of it again today because this theme is still hard on my heels, heavy on my heart, in the forefront of my mind (add your own description).
Holiness, it’s become kind of a dirty word – to be called holier than thou or holy Joe isn’t a compliment it implies you think you’re better than someone else, that you’re putting on a false front. I buy into that far too easily, using a way of putting myself down when I talk about prayer or fasting or bible reading so that people won’t think I think I am perfect. That implies it is me and not God. That’s also another blog. Today I want to talk about what holiness looks like (with the assumption it is something I actually do want to be recognised and seen in me).
This is what a holiness looks like: (this is also my verse for this week)
4 God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world; He wanted us to live holy lives characterised by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him.
Characterised by love – how can anyone object to a life like that?
Free from sin – is inserted by the translators to help understand how we live ‘blameless before Him’. We have been freed from sin by the Cross, by the Resurrection by the victory of Jesus over sin and death. We appear blameless when God looks at us because of the blood of Jesus. We are able to live free from sin and remain blameless because Jesus did it when He lived on earth as a man. It’s a double whammy. We appear to be blameless when we come to God, and we can live up to that appearance because Jesus showed us how and provides the means by Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Now we have to choose to live that way. That’s the rub. I was talking yesterday about the number of times in the Gospels that Jesus went to be alone – I wrote about it recently. My mum shared about Jesus pausing before He went to see Lazarus, days passed and Lazarus died and was buried but Jesus paused – perhaps waiting for the Fathers word. Isn’t that how we should be? Not hasty rushing in to do and speak and act but pausing, deliberating, listening until we know what the right thing is. Doing the right thing comes from being in the right place, listening to the right Person, loving the Truth, longing for the Way, living in the Light. That’s why holy is who I am not what I do. My actions come from my heart.
Sometimes that right thing is obvious, we need barely a second’s pause. That’s awesome because it encourages us to know that being holy can be the automatic response we make. Other times we have to stop longer, listen harder, wrestle with things until the right and proper response is seen and becomes possible. That’s hard, being holy is hard because we have become so sin-soaked, so world-polluted – it’s like we are trying to speak a foreign language, we need to stop and think of the right words and phrases over and over until we start to dream in that language.
I don’t want to stop and think before I watch a show, read a book, snark a comment, laugh at a joke. I don’t want to consider love before I react to a situation, get annoyed by an attitude, be hurt by life. I don’t want to lay down my life, take up my cross and follow Him. I can sing the words, raise my hands and get lost in the glory but I still don’t want to lay down my life like the song words say.
But I have to because I love Him – because He loved me first. I have to pause. I have to wait and listen. When I fail (as I will) I have to be loved, get up, be brushed off and go again. But for me at least, it’s time. It’s time to stop talking ‘world and sin’ and start using the language God has been teaching, the language of Holiness that He longs to make my first and native tongue.
My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.