Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is Holiness Anyway?

"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Romans 6:22

Here is Miriam-Webster's definition of holy:
exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
as well as:
devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity

And of course, the actual word holiness means "the state of being holy".

I was thinking about holiness last night as I sat and read my story Bible for a bit. It had a little footnote in it that the generally accepted definition of holy is "set apart" and I thought that sounded like a great way to put it. I think Webster's first definition is holiness as God is most holy. God is exalted and worthy of complete devotion. Of course He is perfect in goodness, righteousness, and a million other character traits. God pretty much IS the definition of holy. But I think I have to disagree with that second definition up there- that holy can mean being entirely devoted to a deity OR the work of the deity. If I spent every hour of my life in service to God, but lacked any of the spiritual aspects of being holy, I think I would fail at achieving any kind of holiness. Basically, I mean that being holy, or becoming holy is much more than the physical. It's more than what we see with our naked eye- the state of holiness is more about what's going on on the inside.

And that's where I think "set apart" is a great definition, because how many of us have already been set apart for God? How many of us is God shaping and molding for the purpose of following His perfect will? I wonder if we would use that language- being set apart for God- if we would understand a little more about how as we go through life, we should be growing more and more In Him and learning to be set apart.

And what do I think of when I think of set apart? Honestly? My mind immediately goes to another time and another place. I actually think of the dark ages- the times of kings and queens and Godlessness, because there, in that time, one who was set apart for God was obvious. The people who worshipped the one and true God were very few and far between- but everyone knew who it was. They were truly set apart- they dressed differently, their homes probably had particular markings on them to identify that a Christian lived there- and everyone in a community knew who the God people were.

Let's think about that for a minute. Yes, that was a very dangerous time, there was a reason it was called the dark ages, and at any moment one who worshipped God could be put to death, and yet, they did not hide. How is it for us today? We live on a street surrounded by homes- and first of all, we don't even know all our neighbors. There are just some people who don't want to get to know their neighbors. But I'm thinking, if there was truly a community-wide crises of some kind, who would the people turn to? In their darkest hour and time of need who would they call for prayer or guidance from God?

If we are living truly set-apart for God, more and more people will see that in our everyday appearance. As we go about our daily life, people will look at us and wonder what it is about us that makes us different? As we become more and more like Christ, and more and more holy, our physical countenance will start to reflect that. Truly! Think about it- when someone is pregnant with a child- they are said to glow. And most pregnant women really, truly do glow- there is something on their face that just screams of the joy they are experiencing over carrying this new life inside of them. Think of a bride on her wedding day-glowing with excitement over marrying the man of her dreams. Right now- think of the joy and excitement on an Olympian's face as they realize that they just won a gold medal.

It is the exact same thing for those of us who carry the love of God with us each and every day. That love has got to go somewhere! So it comes out of our pores- it shows up on our faces. Have you ever received a hug from someone and as they walked away you really and truly felt like you were given more than a hug? That warm fuzzy feeling perhaps? That's the love of God that person is carrying with them! I think as more and more people accept the challenge of living for God truly and completely, and as more and more people start sharing the love of God in their everyday, that we'll start to see the results of that.

"When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel." Isaiah 29:23

As more people share the love of God in their everyday, and as more of us accept the idea that we can grow in holiness- that we were designed to grow more and more holy so that we can spend eternity in the presence of the one who is Most Holy- that the world around us will see this and will want to know more. They will see the influence of God on our lives and they are just going to want it for themselves as well. And that is the entire point. The point of being holy here on earth is to be an example for the world around us- and to take as many of them with us as we can. Holiness is for anyone and everyone who wants it.

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