Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thoughts on being Holy

Hebrews 10:10 it says “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

This scripture says something amazing; When we believe in Jesus, we are holy. We don’t have to do anything to be holy because, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has done it all. We can stand before God, pure and clean, righteous and holy.

So now that we are holy, what does that mean? The word “holy” means “set apart.” For example, dirt is just dirt except when God tells Moses to take off his shoes because he is on Holy Ground. Bowls are just bowls except when they are used in the service of the temple, and then they are holy. Bread is just bread except when it is broken and taken in communion. Being used by God for His purposes and plans is what makes each of these things holy. The same goes for us; we are holy because we are set apart for God’s use and purposes, not our own.

Being holy also means that we need to separate ourselves from the life patterns and evil desires of the past. 1 Peter 1:14 says “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. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Do you think you are holy in all you do? Why or why not? If I am honest, I have to say that I am not. First, I am terrified of the accountability of being “holy.” I think I don’t like accountability in general. For instance, when we bought my mini van it was brand new and I was a little disappointed because I would have preferred a used car. The funny thing is even though I am a major cheap skate, my reason for wanting a used van was not just price but was so that if I got some dings on it or a fender bender; it would be no big deal. So before I agreed to get a new van, I made my husband promise that he would not say anything about the cleanliness or dings on the side of the van. I didn’t want to have to keep my van “perfect” without spot or blemish just like I don’t want to have to keep my life perfect. If my car is perfect, even the slightest imperfection is noticeable but one more scratch among hundreds is no big deal. I am afraid if I am “set apart” and I do unholy things, what will people say; will they hold up my hypocrisy and weakness and doubt God or even worse judge me? I think if I don’t even try then maybe no one will notice my mistakes.

I am also afraid of being set apart for God’s purposes. Living a holy life sometimes means giving up certain things that other people are able to do. I am not sure if I want to give up things I like in order to be used by God. One of the biggest things that I struggle with is giving up my wants and desires. Being holy means that I will be used by God for his purposes and plans, not my own. Just as the priests, bowls and knives in the temple were holy- used for the purposes that God intended. So my life would be for God’s purposes and plans. – am I willing to give up whatever God calls me to give up for His plans and purposes because He has made me holy?

I would love to be “good” or even “great” but “holy” is scary and alienating. I am worried that if I live my life wholly for the Lord, if I am set apart from the culture or other people, people will think I am weird. Since I am already a little weird that is really scary. I am afraid of being set apart, of being different than everyone else.

These are questions that I have struggled with at multiple times in my life even though I was a believer. When I was in middle school I answered these questions with a no, “I don’t want to be holy. I don’t want to be different and set apart. I want to do the things that everyone else does because I don’t trust God to give me what I really want.” Middle school was miserable. I was weird, didn’t make good grades and didn’t have good friends.

By high school, I realized that I did want to be holy if that was what God wanted -It couldn’t get much worse and if I was going to be weird, make bad grades, have no friends, be poor and lonely then at least I would have God to blame rather than myself. In six short months, God miraculously blessed me with amazing grades, a full scholarship to college and friends that have been with me for over half of my lifetime. When I think back to my choice in high school to be holy, it was a choice to trust God with my life, dreams and aspirations. It was a choice to stop fighting, as Hebrews 10:10 says – we are holy. When I chose to be like everyone else and fight being set apart- I am fighting who I am in Christ.

As a grown up now, I still face the question am I willing to be used by God wholly w-h-o-lly for his plans? Do I trust that He has called me to be holy because He loves me and wants to bless me? Does He know more than me- I am a Mars Hill College graduate- if he has something he wants me to do, something to give up it is because He knows what is best. Does He love me- He did send his son to die for me. There is an old hymn that contains the line “trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” God’s desire for obedience is not to punish us and keep us from “fun, cool things” but instead he wants to protect us and give us better things. Obedience equals blessings. As I come to times in my life when God is calling me to greater holiness for areas that I have held onto for control and because I think my way, the ways I have done things in the past is best, God reminds me that he has something better for me. I just have to trust Him.

Do you find it hard to be holy and struggle with the idea of being set apart? How has God blessed you when you are faithful to trust and obey?