Hi, Rob here. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘holy?’ For years I couldn’t relate to it, couldn’t connect with it. I related holiness to perfection which I related to good moral behaviour. I thought holiness was more about what we didn’t do than what we did do. It was about avoiding evil, not about doing good. So the call to be holy which resounds throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, left me feeling anxious, guilty, un-free and feeling like a failure at the Christian life. I wonder if you can relate to this? The Apostle Paul did; “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out (Romans 7:18).” The desire to do good comes from the brand new heart that Christ has given to us, but the failure to do good comes, I think, from a profound misunderstanding of the holiness that Christ is calling us to.
The beginning of my breakthrough came when I started engaging with how utterly human Jesus was and realising that holiness looks like Jesus. Jesus got his hands dirty. He walked among society’s outcasts. He threw parties and made a lot of wine! He was willing to confront powerful people, even when they wanted him dead. He was hungry, thirsty, tired and frustrated often. He had friends who let him down. In all of this, Jesus revealed his holiness. His holiness came through in his beautiful humanity; in the fullness of his personality; in his intimacy with the Father. Holiness comes, not from trying hard to avoid bad stuff, but from walking in relationship with God. To be holy is to be fully human; to be who we were meant to be in the first place. This is what Jesus showed us.
Holiness comes out of who we are in Christ, who he has declared us to be. Colossians 1:22-23 says, “But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted (The Message).” 1 Peter 1:14 says; “As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.” He then adds, “Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. he paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.”
We are holy in Christ so let’s walk closely with God and learn to live holy lives. I love the title of John Eldredge’s latest book, “The Utter Relief of Holiness: How God’s Goodness Frees Us from Everything that Plagues Us.” I used to think of holiness as a weight around my neck that would keep pushing me down. Now I realise that holiness is freedom and life. It is Christ’s life in me. It is Satan defeated and sin put in its place. It is a new me and my new heart shining like the sun (son!). It is the smile of Christ and the joy of the Father flowing through my life. It is what I want, not what I have to do. I don’t earn the Father’s love by it, but I enjoy his love through it. Holiness is who I really am. I want to live out of my true self; free in Christ, alive in him, witnessing to his love, beauty and grace. I’ll live the last word to Mr Eldredge:
“The hope of Christianity is that we get to live the life of Jesus. His beautiful goodness can be ours. Jesus can heal what has gone wrong inside each and every one of us. he does by giving us his goodness; he imparts it to us. We get to live his life – that is, live each day by the power of his life within us. That’s the hope: you get to live his beautiful life…God makes us whole by making us holy; he makes us holy by making us whole…There is a way to be good again (The Utter Relief of Holiness, 179.”
God Bless you and check out John’s book below. It’s really, really good!