Skip to main content

What Does It Mean to Be Holy?

            Holiness is an ambiguous concept we encounter on our spiritual journey.  Every time I stop to consider what it means to be holy, I wonder how God could even suggest holiness could exist in humans.  I think it reveals His great love for us.  He loves us so much He sees that we are capable of more than we could ever even come close to conceiving.
            Holiness fits right into the category of impossibility.  Yet it is what God is all about in our lives.  God says that there are people who are holy.  In Acts 3:21, He calls the prophets holy.  I understand how things could be holy or even a place can be holy.  But it is when God calls a person holy or even suggests that I should strive for holiness that the idea becomes inconceivable. 
            When I think about the holy prophets (mentioned in Acts 3:21) who told about Jesus, I know that they each had their failures along the way.  Not one lived a perfect life.  What made them holy was their will that was devoted to serving God.
            I can say that I have met people who exude a sense of holiness.  Sometimes they are the people you would least expect to move you, but something does.  This summer I was in Guatemala and entered a church where no one spoke English.  My friends and I grew curious about what could be happening that day because there seemed to be a lot of action and preparation.  I thought it might be a special Saint’s day.  I used my Spanglish to ask the nun what was happening in the church.  I didn’t realize at the time that she was probably the one in charge of all the preparations that were obviously more important than a curious tourist.  Yet, that is not how she treated me.  She should have been rushed and irritated at the interruption that I became.  Instead, she was very kind and very patient and focused totally on our little group until she was sure we understood the answer to our question.  After we left I still felt the wonder of her kindness and care she took to stop everything she was doing to answer. 
            Not being hurried and welcoming every person God sends to you with big problems or small is a picture of holiness.  However holiness is so much more than that.  Holiness is the experience of coming most near to what it means to have been created in the image of God.  God created us to be holy like He is holy; and no matter how far we are from that, He won’t give up the hope for us to become holy.
            1 Peter 1:16 says, Since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.  Holiness is constantly held out as the aspiration of our lives.  If I were God, I would have given up long ago.  He asked holiness of the Israelites, and they deviated so far from His hopes for them.  He continues to draw out holiness from us.  Holiness is being Christ-like in character.
            It’s a good practice to treat things and places in a holy way, but it is much more difficult to become a holy person.  As I reflect over my life, I can find a few holy moments—times when I have responded as Christ would, but they are few and far between.  Still God keeps calling me to His vision for my life.  He wants me to become a person of holiness, to have a character that can be described as holy to God.
Copyright © 2011.  Deborah R. Newman. All Rights Reserved. 


Popular posts from this blog

You Shall Not Be Overcome

I distinctly remember sending this quote by Julian of Norwich to a recently widowed friend of mine over ten years ago.  You will not be overcome.
God did not say you will not be troubled,
You will not be belaboured,
You will not be disquieted;
But God said, You will not be overcome.
The quote in one of my devotional books for July 23, which marks the day I became a widow myself is by the same author.  “One day God spoke to me and I heard these words, “you won’t be overcome.”  God wants us to pay attention to His words.  God wants us to be strong in our certainty in Him, always, both in good times and in bad.  The Lord loves us, and God so enjoys our company.  God loves being with us and wants us to love Him and enjoy being with Him and trust Him completely, and all will be well.”  As I write this six years since his death I can attest to the reality that all will be well.  God chose to bless me with a second marriage to a wonderful man who holds my hand through this hur…

The Worst

What is the worst thing you think could happen to you?  There are so many options in a fallen world that it is hard to consider the worst.  We try not to think about it.  We do think we are going through the worst thing when we lose a loved one, are betrayed by a friend or family, sent to prison, or become the victim of a crime.  You know the worst thing that has happened to you.  You can think of someone for whom you are grateful that what happened to that person didn’t happen to you.               The world is full of frightening and dreaded options of worst case scenarios.  When you read the Bible, it is not hard to decide what the worst thing that could happen in your lifetime would be.  The Bible makes it clear that the worst is that you do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and be saved.               That sounds like a Sunday School answer doesn’t it?  It doesn’t feel that bad to say “No Thank You” to God.  Many don’t even recognize the day that they to…

Repenting for My Worship

Psalm 51: 15-17 describes true worship: Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
               The Lenten Season shoves in our faces the reality of who God is.  He is the God who killed His Son to conquer death for the humans He had formed with His hands in love.  What kind of God does that?  What kind of God creates heavens and earths, all the while knowing that the inhabitants could turn on Him in an instant? He had the power to destroy everything He created, yet finds a way to allow all the inhabitants to have their own way, either to follow Him or follow their own will?  He is the GREAT I AM.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is worthy of all praise.  He created us to bring Him praise (Isaiah 43:21).  He declares that His Son is worthy of even higher prai…