“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed, In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13
As many look forward to a refreshing break over the summer, it’s good to remember that true refreshment comes through dwelling in holiness rather than a throwing off of restraint. The call to holiness is a call to happiness.
True holiness is experienced in four essential encounters.
- An encounter with “living force.”
There is nothing dead about true holiness. It is a call to life. A call to the awesome. All the great works of God have been accomplished through men and women who had an encounter with this passionate revelation of powerful life force. Wild nature, transcendent worship, incarnate silence, living word and covenant fellowship can all renew us in such an encounter.
- An encounter with “separateness.”
The Hebrew word for “holy”, qadosh, means “to set apart.” We are called to be different. A chosen people, a holy nation, belonging to God. “You are to distinguish between the holy and the common “declares the Levitical law. (Lev 10:10) Many of us can feel continually condemned by such a law, painfully dogged by a persistent sense of a lack of holiness. Leviticus 10:10 has to be put aside Hebrews 10:10 which gives us the fantastic news that our holiness is already won for us through faith in the redemptive work and will of Jesus Christ.
“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Rather than be continually worried about being polluted by the world, let us instead infect the world with our holiness.
- An encounter with “God-likeness.”
Holiness has a God reflecting quality. “Be holy, for I am holy”(Lev 11:44) says the Lord, encouraging us to enter into His character. God-likeness is wholeness, and God has a passion for wholeness in every area of our lives. The idea of wholeness links very much to the word “shalom.” This Jewish greeting was much more than a simple “hello.” It was a desire for completeness; for right relations between men and creation.
The Orthodox theologian Paul Evdokimov, wrote the following:
“The power of divine holiness is a devouring flame that consumes all impurity; when it touches a man it purifies him and makes him holy; it brings him into harmony with the holiness of God-even into his likeness.” Another Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:18 wrote: “we all,…beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his image from one degree of glory to another.”
- An encounter with “dynamism.”
Holiness is on the move. There can be nothing “static” about the “ecstatic!” It gives us a sense of destiny and purpose. Holiness shows itself in action. It is the fuel of the Kingdom of God. Holiness is courageous in proclaiming truth and justice and working with others for good. John Wesley recognised that there “was no holiness but social holiness.” Holiness is a group event to be lived out in the rigours of the real world.
In the face of holiness we can respond in three ways.
May your holidays be truly holy days impregnated by these grace inspired responses. Isaiah had an incredible revelation of holiness as he saw the Lord upon His throne. Like many of us he found himself unholy yet infinitely loved. He worshiped, changed and boldly responded to the Lord.
“Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
This devotional owes much to Alan Kreider’s writings in “Journey Towards Holiness”