Aloha Friday Message – June 21, 2013 – Take Time to Be Holy

1325AFC062113 – Take Time to be Holy

Read it online here, please.

MATTHEW 5:48 – So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

LXE Leviticus 19:2 Speak to the congregation of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.”

Leviticus 20:7 — So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

JV Deuteronomy 18:13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.

NIV Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful

NJB 1 Peter 1:16 since scripture says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’

This past Sunday afternoon this hymn popped into my mind, and it has stayed there all week. I call that a pretty strong hint! Then, much to my surprise, this passage was in the readings for Tuesday, June 18. As I reflected on that verse, and on how far I am from being anything that could be called holy, I realized there is something we need to understand about God’s expectation in this regard.

How can we be perfect? How do you feel about perfectionists? Have you ever been told, or have you ever told someone else, “Too bad we’re not all perfect like you are!” Let’s begin with saying that being a perfectionist is not the same as “being perfect” as God has commanded (see the other references, especially from the Old Testament.) Being a perfectionist often boils down to getting things the way you want them – having your way in everything. It’s true that there is some mighty fine – and often very generous – work done through the power of that attitude, but there is something more that would make it even better. In our thoughts, words, and deeds as we live our lives, whether for ourselves or others, our highest aspiration should be to emulate Christ in all things. (See Romans 8:29)

That’s a pretty big goal! Intellectually we all understand that this is how the Christian Life is to be lived. Spiritually, we cherish the hope that every day will hold moments when we mirror the life of Jesus in our interactions with others. But in the practical, Worldly sense of day-to-day life, we know we fall far short of that. (See Romans 3:23.) How can we live in this sinful world without being constantly drawn into the very things we are taught by Jesus to avoid? Jesus has chosen us to be with him, not with the world. If we spend our lives seeking to be close to him we are less likely to be close to the things of this world. It’s not that we ignore the world; we just are better able to do God’s will – live according to the beauty of his plan – when we are focused on his prerequisites rather than our petty desires.

That kind of focus takes a lot of practice. Remember “practice makes perfect?” The idea is that doing something over and over again is the only way to learn to do it well. When we practice, we repeat a specific and correct set of behaviors over and over, until we have mastered it. Performers call that rehearsal. It seems obvious that what we repeat must be repeated correctly; otherwise we are only perfecting a mistake. In addition, there is that adage attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” If we continually practice sinning, we become better and better sinners. That’s not what God had in mind. Turning again to Romans, Paul tells us not go give in to sin, but to remember that we are baptized into the death of sin through the death of Christ. We are to use our bodies – our worldly lives – to do everything God approves of as given to us in scripture.

The scripture passages at the top of this message give us some insight into how this is done. Look again at that second passage from Leviticus – Leviticus 20:7 — So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God. How do we set ourselves apart so that we love God more than we love the world? Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Excellence, perfection, without flaw or blemish – none of these is a once-in-a-lifetime act. (Reread the passage from 1 Peter 1) We certainly know this never happens instantly; it is a process, a journey, and perhaps even involves a little wandering around until we find our way again. “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” So says Albert Coué, “father of Applied Conditioning.” In living the Christ-like life, that is true if we are following Jesus command to love one another in the same way he (and therefore the Trinity) loves us: Perfectly.

So we begin to see that being holy – Holiness – requires total devotion to God. Whether in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, the word used in Matthew 5:48 for “perfect” means to be whole, complete, as in fully developed. God created us for his purposes, not for our purposes. We differ from the world – set ourselves apart – not out of spite, but because we have been called by God to be in his Kingdom, and in his Kingdom we grow and grow until we become like him. God is there with us every step of the way to help us, to guide us, to sustain us, to help us repent, to help us become Holy. That is the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit whom God the Father through Christ Jesus has given to us as our Companion.

Through an in the Holy Spirit we access the Grace of Salvation and not condemnation. I’ll offer one more Scripture here to help clarify that. It is John 3:17For God did not send his Son into the world that he would condemn the world, but that he would give life to the world by him. Remember Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine, who always said, “The devil made me do it.”? We have the Power to resist that because we have the Power of the Holy Spirit, the Power to be Holy as God is Holy. Every time we make it our practice to rely on the Spirit, we are living out God’s beautiful plan for our lives. That plan might well look like this:

BeHoly

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

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PS: a warm and loving welcome to Sarah Marie Case as of 6/18/13!

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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