When people talk about being holy, it is rarely with any real practical application other than to try and externally dictate things that don’t really mean anything as a long term matter of spirit–you know the lists: can’t cut your hair, dresses to the floor, no makeup, no fun activities or sports, no pants (lotta sexism quite frankly), etc. As I have gotten closer to God (which is to say, becoming less self-oriented and more in tuned to what God wants to show me), I have really sought after this idea of holiness, what is looks like, sounds like, and feels like. I want to know FROM GOD what it means to be “set apart.”
So, I LOVE when God begins to knit things that I’d previously read together to answer a question in my heart. I be feeling super special. And sometimes, I keep it to myself. I never want God to not share with me the secret things that come out of God’s presence. But this? I was too geeked to understand how profound these scriptures were together.
So the scripture I started out reading was Matthew 5:38-48, where Jesus tells his followers (in my own translation but you really ought to go back and read this), “Despite what you thought you heard from Moses, you really supposed to treat others the way that God treats y’all: with excessive kindness. The rain literally falls on the just and the unjust–plus, what are you proving by being nice to people who are nice to you? Nah. You gotta be perfect like God is perfect.”
The sister scripture, Luke 6:27-37, says basically the same thing…except it says, “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”
Then. THEN, the Holy Ghost said, “Remember that other scripture where it say ‘Be holy as I am holy’?”(Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2)
Perfect. Merciful. Holy.
Perfect, because that perfection means being complete (mature) in Christ. Merciful, because that completeness means you move like God (or God’s Son) in the earth (compassion). Holy, because being this way immediately demonstrates that you have been set apart for God by God and you have taken on God’s character (holiness).
In this world, if you truly want to be set apart, it won’t be because you’ve sequestered yourself in a church. Plenty of very unpleasant, evil acting folks claim some form of religious affiliation–in America, the bulk of them love to beat people up with their “Christianity.” Nah, your “set apartness” will glow from the demonstrated love that Jesus spoke of: to love them that hate you, bless those that curse you, be kind to the ones that spend their time hurting you, to pray for folks who don’t deserve you to say hello. Mercy. Compassion. Love.
It’s what you do unto the LEAST among us that you do for Christ. And we ALL know that only what you do for Christ will last. So as you begin the walk of holiness, sure, there will be things that God will require you to give up and change. Yet the most important things—the fast that God has chosen for us is in how we treat the people God has created. I will always tell you the truth in love, and it is this: THE BEST BIBLE PEOPLE CAN READ IS THE DEMONSTRATED POWER OF CHRIST THROUGH YOU BY HOW YOU LIVE, NOT BY WHAT YOU SAY. And this is the core of holiness: to BE like Christ and DO what Christ SAID to do HOW He Said to do it and HOW He showed you.
Perfect. Merciful. Holy.