Lately I have been considering the issue of holy habits and shared a little about it by way of a prelude.
It is my intention to get into the habits in more detail as the blog entries come and go. At the moment though, I want to delve a little bit further into the issue of why be holy.
When asked as a child what did I want to be when I grew up, that question was geared towards an occupation. Apparently in generations gone by the desire of the younger generation would be to successfully take over from the older generation in the given occupation. If the Dad was of a particular profession, the child would want to venture into that profession. Indeed, some cultures implied that this was the way things should be. Your grandfather was an ironmonger, your Dad was an ironmonger and so you would be an ironmonger.
Yet in some cases there was more to it than just following an occupation. There was a mantle of a character to inherit, fulfil and hopefully pass on to the next generation. Good or bad, renowned or unknown, there was something honourable in pursuing being like the parent in their character. It’s what makes it all the more disappointing if there is no model to aspire to – not to suggest that mimicking was the only way to be. Obviously each generation and character in that generation would carry off their own unique take on those desired characters giving the legacy a nuance that ensured it would never be an exact replica, but rather a multi-layered expression of the given character.
All of that, apparently, was part of what it was to be human in some cultures. That is not necessarily a bad thing all the time. It also comes from a good source if we take the creation narrative as informative. In that narrative we see that the character we were given to reflect is the character of the Creator.
So it is a tragedy of truly biblical proportions that a lot of life in the world at the moment is about exploring the various aspects of the human experience without reference to the Creator. Without a desire to turn to the Father for a great model to follow especially seeing as though we were made to reflect His character. So in all of our navel gazing, self-exploration for self-awareness and being a ‘better me’ and loving me just the way I am with no reference to the Father and Creator it’s a tragic mess of delusion.
I say all of that as someone very much aware of my own capacity for delusion. I can get into rhythms and routines in life with the gloss of spirituality and the decorations of religiosity. It can be all going so well, until I scratch the surface and am challenged to consider, who is it I am really desiring to be? What am I here for? What is my desire?
That’s why Peter’s challenge is such a pressing and prevalent one. Jesus epitomised that like Father like Son dynamic I referred to earlier. His Father was holy and he was holy in all his time on earth. That holiness radiated from Him in His teachings and the character that He backed it up with. The Father took delight in the Son, as the Son took delight in being pleasing to the Father.
So it should come as no surprise that once we embrace His amazing grace and accept His invitation to follow Him our desires get on the process of changing. We don’t desire what we used to desire. We have a new appetite. We hunger and thirst for something different and we are satisfied by something completely different to what brought us satisfaction before. In fact even the things that pleased us previously can take a different appreciation now that we are changed.
A massive reason and motivation for that is the promised Holy Spirit that lives in us. Unsurprisingly, His aim is to lead us to be just like the Father and just like the Son, because it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us all one. It should also not come as a shock that the Holy Spirit would want us to be … holy. I mean, you can see it’s in how we refer to Him – not as Loving Spirit, or Righteous Spirit, or Happy Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit from the Holy God who is preparing and shaping our lives to reflect the Father in being – holy.
To be honest with you, I never always paid conscious attention to that. It was too easy for me to get caught up with activities, projects and events that needed planning and performing to pay attention to what the Spirit was saying to me as to who the Father called me to be.
Thankfully, being the gracious, merciful and loving Father that He is – ever patient with His offspring – the Father set up plenty of opportunities to grab my attention and enable me to focus it on what His main mission has been all along in making rebels His sons and daughters.
There is now residing in the believer, in the disciple of Jesus Christ, a desire to be holy. Now there is a lot of competition that looks to squelch, choke, stifle and suppress that desire. Prominent among the competition is the former desires. They want to give the impression that the new life thing is just a cover, it’s a phoney and a fraud. That is why it’s so important to expose those lies exactly for what they are and seek to commit ourselves to working with God by His Spirit to meditate, contemplate and activate that desire to be like the Father and be holy.
Engaging in that process is part of the joy of knowing the truth that sets us free – this is relational and spiritual, working on the inside and affecting our approach on the outside. This liberating pursuit, founded on grace, is why there is such joy pursuing the heart of God which calls you to be holy. He who calls you to holiness enables you to be holy and delight in doing so as you recognise that is what you were created for as you grow to fully reflect the character of God on the earth.
You want to be holy because you want to be pleasing to the Holy One who rescued you from death and the desires that only lead you there. You want to be holy because it’s the Way, the Truth and the Life. You want to be holy because when you look into His loveliness, His goodness and His graciousness, there’s nothing else worth pursuing.
It’s just as well then that in generating and stimulating that desire to be holy as He is holy, His Son practices some habits that we can develop likewise to help us in this divine pursuit so that others will know our Father by His children.
“Hold on a minute, Christopher.” I hear you say. “You’re all caught up in why we want to be holy, but what is it that you are talking about when you go on about being holy?”
That’s a great question and so …
(To be continued)
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden