Reflecting Holiness in a Darkened World
By Lori Wagner
When spiritual perception is distorted like a reflection in a funhouse mirror, the resulting confusion can create an unstable and sometimes crippling mindset. Dizzy in my personal cycle of blunders and bloopers, I’ve wondered if holiness is an unrealistic ideal. Is it reasonable for a perfect God to demand holiness when He knows our human frailty? A loving Father wouldn’t set His children up for failure, always reaching for the unreachable in never ending frustration.
Without vision, or divine revelation, God’s people languish in hopelessness and ultimately perish (Proverbs 29:18). Spiritual understanding is our stabilizer. To break the cycle of perceived failures, we must understand this truth: In order to thrive spiritually, we must first learn to accept the limitations of our humanity. This does not discount God’s call to holiness, but factors His grace into the equation.
God’s beautiful gift of grace does not excuse poor choices and lack of effort while we rest on downy comforters of heavenly love. Instead, grace is God’s response to our hopelesness. Grace empowers us to do and be all God had in mind when He made us uniquely for His purpose and pleasure. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Holiness may seem to be an unachievable abstract, but it is a core concept of our faith and part of God’s master plan. The Hebrew word for holiness, kedushah, means “separateness.” We are separate because God called us out of the world. He took what was common, our lives, and united them with Him. Everyday people, places and things are holy when they are separated from the world and dedicated as sacred unto God (Deuteronomy 14:2). We are holy when we are His.
A holy life is not the result of conquered wills, but transformed desires. In ourselves, we cannot generate holiness. Holiness is something we receive from God – His nature and essence that we reflect to the world around us.
A mirror reflects only when light is present. When we look at a mirror, what we see is light hitting its surface and then sent back to our eyes as an upside-down image that rotates in our minds. As we grow spiritually, we receive deposits from God’s Word and Spirit. Through the lens of our lives His divine character and concepts transpose from the spiritual realm into the natural world around us. God grants forgiveness to us; He asks us to extend forgiveness to others. God is faithful; He expects us to be faithful in our relationships. God is kind; He teaches us to offer kindness to those around us. God is holy and dedicated to us; He wants us to live holy, set-apart lives for Him.
When God made man, He made him in His image, clothed in light (Psalm 104:2). Think about a light bulb. We don’t really notice the glass when a light is turned on, but when the light is off, we see the bare bulb. July 22, 2009, Charles Q. Choi of www.livescience.com reported recent studies prove human bodies emit low levels of light. Choi’s report backs up the Genesis account. God made men as light bearers. Although sin diminished the brilliance of man’s light, and Adam and Eve were no longer covered in glory, God’s original design remains intact.
Jesus, the Light of the world, entered humanity in a stable – God without the glory. Through faith in Him, we will one day be fashioned "like unto His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). For now, we live connected to the natural and the supernatural, the holy and the common. As followers of Jesus, we are called to light our world, to reflect the moral attributes of God’s holy nature in our words, attitudes and conduct.
God doesn’t ask for anything He hasn’t provided. His call to holiness is not an unrealistic intimidating edict. It is a promise from a holy God to His people. “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY" (1 Peter 1:15-16 NASB). When we are called and set apart for God, “you shall be holy” is just as sure a promise as “you shall receive the Holy Ghost.”
One word of warning: we must never misappropriate that which has been consecrated as holy. To do so is to commit a grave sin (Daniel 5; 1 Corinthians 3:17). It’s a sobering thought, but keep in mind that when we stand before the Lord in judgment, our works on the earth will continue into eternity. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still…and he that is holy, let him be holy still (Revelation 22:11).
Throughout Scripture, purity and holiness intertwine. Sören Kierkegaard, a 19th Century Danish theologian said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Holiness is simplicity – one thing, one desire. Only by drawing near to God can we achieve purity and holiness (James 4:8): when we purpose or will “only one thing” – to live in the presence of God. True holiness is the result of being plugged in to an intimate relationship with God 24/7, set apart for Him and granting Him access to every part of our lives.
Through life’s slip-ups and hiccups, God’s grace covers our human failings. He knows our hearts, and that’s a comfort. Achieving a holy walk is not pretending we are flawless, but being what we are, His. God doesn’t want us to live fake lives of contrived perfection. He knows, like every parent, that children don’t just go through life, they grow through life. By God’s grace, as we grow spiritually we will choose to embrace His will over ours, even when we make mistakes. Then we will understand that flawed people can still be holy people.
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