Isn’t the very idea of holiness offensive in a 21st-century, no-holds-barred world? Shouldn’t that term be reserved for angry church ladies who want to suck all the fun out of life? Isn’t it for the few, the angry … them? Surely it isn’t for us who live in the 21st century.
As it turns out, holiness is the very character of a loving, creative, joyful, joy-giving God, who has told us that because he is holy, we can be holy, too.
If holiness is the character of God, then surely it is also the prevailing quality at work in the good life, a life we are invited to enjoy as God has designed it. It is not a list of rules or an engineered life that keeps us from sinning, but an art form and a pathway to joy, with as many expressions and approaches to life as there are people.
Far from being restrictive and fun-sapping, holiness is the ultimate form of freedom. And it is worth talking about because it calls out the best in us and causes us – when we live it well – to glorify God. Holiness is at least this: a design of life that exposes us most fully to the heart of God.
As I come to the middle of my life, I’ve been thinking a lot (as it seems most folks do at this stage of life) about how to make the most of this “second half.” I’ve been searching my spirit and asking questions like: Which spiritual gifts have risen to the surface, and which ones have run their course? What is the message that speaks most deeply to me … and through me? What places and people do I want to pour into?
I don’t have all my answers, but a few of them are surfacing and among them, I hear the word holiness. Not just as a lifestyle, but as a message. As a way of approaching life so that the fullness of it — the treasure of it — is exposed.
I expect that will be a recurring theme threading its way through the writings on this site. I’m praying that life — mine and a few others — will be enhanced by the venture.
What does the word holiness call to mind for you? Do you hear it as a negative or a positive? How does it help you to think about holiness as an art form?