Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Art of Holiness

"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy..." Lev 11:44

What does God mean when He asks us to be Holy? I only ask because, of late, it is a question that has occurred to me. Most Christians I know fall into one of two categories: they are either 'too holy' or 'not holy enough'.

The 'too holy' Christians quote scriptures any time you ask them for advice, wish everyone a 'blessed' day and talk about how 'blessed' they are, call on the name of the Lord loudly and regularly, send you 'Christian' emails, post Christian sayings on their desks and instruct Satan to 'get thee behind' whenever anything isn't going their way. The 'too holy' Christian often comes with a bad case of a holier-than-thou attitude, is very judgmental, strait-laced and morally uptight.

On the other hand, you'd be very hard to identify the 'not holy enough' Christian as a Christian at all - he or she curses regularly, drinks with the best of them, has one or two significant others, loudly and publicly discusses his or her love affairs and dresses and conducts himself or herself exactly like everybody else. If you are lucky enough to be driving down the right street at the right time on a Sunday morning, you might see this person sneaking guiltily into church service - which is probably the only indication he or she is a Christian (or, at the very least, a spiritual seeker).

Luckily, however, there is a third category of Christian believers. This type of Christan seems to actually have figured out what God meant when He asked us to be 'holy'. According to Strong's Concordance, the 'sanctify yourselves' in the above scripture means " be clean (ceremonially or morally): appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow....proclaim, purify..." And 'holy' means "sacred (ceremonially or morally)...(noun) an angel, a saint, a sanctuary..." When we think of 'holiness', we mostly think of the airs we put on to convince others we are truly living the Christian life. The third type of Christian actually is 'holy.' They consecrate (set themselves apart) in the service of God. They seek to please Him with their actions. They 'clean' themselves through regular prayer and repentance, seeking to absolve themselves of the sins that are committed by each of us every day.

This third category of Christian is 'sacred' to God - they live at a higher standard than the rest of us. They take God's commandments seriously and search their hearts regularly to see if their actions are in accordance with His Word. They are led and guided by the Holy Spirit and take heed to His admonishments to watch their language, guard their hearts, pray for others and take on the burdens of others. They don't necessarily visibly display their 'sainthood' by the wearing of specific garments or religious icons, but their actions, demeanor and speech reflect their deep moral convictions. They embody the very qualities of God. As Jesus said in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." They are known by their love for God and by their love for other people. This is what it means to be holy.

Holiness is a state of being. Being holy means a lifelong commitment to purification, renewal and communion with God.

God asks that we be holy. It is only reasonable that we be obedient to His command.

God Bless.

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