Are You Holy?

Growing up in a Pentecostal background much emphasis was put on the need to be holy.  I was told that God was holy – and I needed to be also.

Well – Scripture does back that up.

In the Old Testament God is called “Qedosh Y’Israel – Holy One of Israel.”

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Isaiah uses this term multiple times – I counted 29 times.  Perhaps he used this term so much because of his vision of the Holy One.  Jeremiah and Ezekiel also used that term as did the Psalmist.

The New Testament affirms that Jesus is holy.

Luke tells us in his Gospel that Gabriel told Mary:

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

Evil spirits, when confronted with Jesus recognized His holiness as Mark tells us:

Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

And both the Old Testament and the New Testament called for us to be holy also.

Yahweh spoke to Moses, “Tell the whole congregation of Israel: Be holy because I, Yahweh your Elohim, am holy.

Peter reiterated this command to be holy as he reminded us what the God had spoken in the Old Testament:

For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Being holy is an important thing because the writer to Hebrews declared:

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

But, what exactly does it mean to be holy?  That has been a subject of debate and study for centuries so I am not going to pretend that I have “the” answer.  But I think for too long we have looked at holiness as something we can obtain by our own efforts.

We see it in every denomination as we all have our lists of “do’s” and “do not’s”.

For me a lot of what it meant was all about outward appearances – and most of that was for the women.

  • Your hair must be long
  • You cannot wear any makeup
  • You cannot wear slacks or pants
  • You cannot wear jewelry

And on and one the list went with what I could not do.  Not much was said about what I should do.

I joke now that if I wanted to know if something was a sin I would just ask myself “Would I have fun if I did this?”  If the answer was “yes” it was probably a sin.  It really was not that bad, but  it always gets a laugh.

The big one for my Catholic girlfriends was

  • You cannot use birth control.

I want to share more in future posts about how I came to realize holiness was more about what was inside of me than outside.  I don’t want to give the impression that being holy does not require an effort on our part but I believe (as I will share more in later posts) that holiness shows up on the outside only when it is rooted on the inside.

For now I would love to hear from some of you on this subject of holiness.

  1. What does holiness mean for you?  How would you describe it to an unbelieving friend?
  2. What were some of the “rules” you grew up with in your church?

 

Are You Called?

God's call

As followers of Jesus Christ, we sometimes hear people speak about receiving a call from God.  Some are very certain they have received a call from God for a certain ministry or a certain job or even a certain place to live.

In the Bible we read of several dramatic calls of God.

There was Moses and the burning bush.

Moses

Little Samuel who heard the voice of God calling him in the night.

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And the very dramatic call of Saul who was persecuting the church but became the Apostle Paul after his encounter with Jesus.

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Yet, for many who follow Jesus there has been no dramatic call, no definite word from God as to the vocation they should pursue.  For those who feel they have never had a definite moment when they sensed God leading them into an area of ministry, they sometimes feel as if they are second-class Christians, not as spiritual as those who have felt a definite “call of God.” 

There is clearly nothing wrong with those who have a clear “calling” from God.  But whether you ever have that “burning bush” moment, whether you ever know without a doubt what God has called you to do, you can rest assured God has called you.

Called you to what?

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.  1 Peter 2:9

Peter tells us that we have been called to be a priest.  When we think about the duties of a priest, we must remember that Peter was writing this at a time before organized religion with its priesthood.  He would be thinking of the priesthood as defined in the Old Testament.  This subject, I confess, is beyond my own training and knowledge but looking at the Levitical priesthood and comparing that to our being priests I saw these similarities:

  •  In order to be a priest you had to belong to a certain family.  You had to be a descendent of their first priest Aaron.  As someone called to priestly work today, we also have to belong to a certain family.  And by belief in Jesus Christ, we do,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13

  • Great emphasis was put on the Old Testament priest to be “holy.”  They could not come into the temple to administer the sacrifices without proper cleansing.  There would many rules about how they had to live and even dress.  So God has called us to live a pure life as we serve Him.

So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  1 Peter 1:14-15

  • Function of the priests were to serve both God and man.  This is what we all are called to do, regardless of whether we feel we have received a “special calling.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  John 13:12-14

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Colossians 3:23

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Romans 12:1

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  1 Corinthians 15:58

I think these scriptures show us that whether we are a secretary, a fireman, a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a stay-at-home mom, whatever  we are – we have a calling from God.

  • Serve others
  • Whatever your job, give it your very best as to the Lord
  • Live a life that is worthy of the name “Christian”