Choosing to be Holy

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” – 1 Peter 1:13-16

That’s a tall order. Can anyone read those words and not feel their shoulders grow heavy and their knees grow weak? Holiness is one thing, but to be holy like God is holy is quite another. How could weak and frail human flesh ever approach even a percentage of the perfection of God?

When I use the term “holy” I immediately hear the tune of an ancient hymn and see in my mind’s eye the throne room scene recorded in Isaiah and in Revelation. The words of Paul echo in my brain that “he lives in approachable light.” That doesn’t sound like me at all! Many words have been used to describe me, “holy” is rarely one of them.

The challenge that Peter calls us to is difficult but not impossible. First, he says that the holiness that should mark our lives will be seen more in what we do than in what we believe. Belief gets us started, but its work is made complete in how we conduct our lives. This is more than just sin avoidance. Yes, as followers of Christ, there are innumerable cravings that we suppress in order to be conformed to the Spirit that lives within us. But, if we are holy as God is holy we love and care for others the same way He loved and cared for us.

I like the way Ron Rose puts it, “So being holy is less about what scared people avoid than what changed people do. As a plant worker, student, kindergarten teacher, lawyer, father, neighbor, spouse, or momentary presence in a stranger’s life, your call to holiness is a very practical challenge to make others’ lives better, fuller, happier, and more aware of God’s loving concern for them because you are in their world.”

May we enrich the lives of those around us as much as God has enriched our lives. And we are able to do this. Not because of our own power, but because of His power that is at work within us.

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