As I begin preparing to speak on The Lord’s Prayer for the Christ Community Church‘s Women’s Retreat next spring, I have been pondering holiness. After all, many of the theologians I respect and love (Edersheim, Ken Bailey) propose that we, the Redeemed, have the ability to sullen the great Name of Christ by the way we live our lives.
I suppose I always knew this on some level. What lover of Christ hasn’t cringed when a particular celebrity proclaims his or her Christianity but then turns around to live in a way that leaves social media awash in mockery, howling against the hypocrisy of the church? Even so, when I first stopped, really stopped to consider that I could soil the name of Christ through my behavior, it halted me in my tracks.
Because you see, I am admittedly flawed, and weak… but I do love Jesus.
Even so, this contemplation of holiness had the potential of being quite a minefield for me. My faith background was a little lopsided in the pursuit of holiness. Grace got lost in the shuffle. Shame fell like…well, hell fire and brimstone.
What a relief to discover that before God calls His children to holiness, He knows there are two truths we just can’t miss.
We need to know who He is.
And we need to know we are too.
Listen to how God reminded Israel of these truths before He gave them the law, engraved in stone by His own hand…
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex.19:4)
We find this truth echoed for the redeemed by someone who knew the power of being reminded of his worth after crushing failure…
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)
So, the pursuit of holiness begins with the healing truth that God is a gracious, loving father who delights in us. We are made in His image and we are precious to Him.
It feels like a sigh of relief doesn’t it?
And who doesn’t want to live a beautiful life to honor such a beautiful God?