Many people, including more than a few who go to church, have a mental conception of holiness that can be described as unattractive, even austere. We find it difficult to relate holiness to real life and real human beings. I think this is really tragic.
The Beauty Of Holiness
The Christian Scriptures teach that all human beings are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). I believe that one of the implications of this truth is that for us to begin to realize our fullest humanity, it will be in relation to our Creator God. And the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is no tyrannical taskmaster. He is not some despot in heaven who gives us arbitrary rules to ensure that we won’t enjoy life down here on planet Earth.
If a person, even one without any faith, takes an honest look at the second half of the 10 commandments, it is hard not to conclude that a society and a family that abides by these commands will thrive in their relationships. When we respect the property of another by not stealing from them, or when we don’t physically or verbally attack another person’s body or reputation, trust is going to be able to take root. And when trust takes root, relationships flourish.
Seeking to live out the 10 commandments in God’s grace will set us free to really be human. When God is Master of our lives, and not something else in God’s created order (i.e. abiding by the first commandment), we will not fall into life-destroying addictions. We will not look to another person to meet needs deep in our soul that only God is big enough to meet. We will look to our spouses not to be god in our life, but instead, to be our partner with whom we can learn to love the Lord and each other, with God’s help. This results in something beautiful and truly human.
A Core Value Of The Church Of The Nazarene
One of the core values of the Church of the Nazarene is that we are called to live holy lives when we become Christians. In 1Peter 1:15, we read these words: “But just as he (God) who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” One of the emphases of John Wesley’s teachings was that God enables the Christian to live a holy life through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian’s inmost being.
The way this holiness will look in our lives will be totally related to real life and will enable us to truly be human. We will learn to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind and we will learn to love others as ourselves. It will enable us to be faithful and loving to our spouses and children. It will cause us to be mindful of our neighbors.
God’s holiness in our lives will make us willing and able to give ourselves to others. In my life, it has moved me to be a Big Brother to father-absent boys when I was younger, and it has moved me to the baseball field where I have coached for years. Holiness is not something that goes against our humanity. On the contrary, it fulfills our humanity. As Ireneaus, an early Church Father, so eloquently put it: “The glory of God is man fully alive”.
QOTD: What is your mental picture of biblical holiness and are you living a holy life?