Christian Holiness Living it out
How on earth do you define holiness?
It would be all too easy to draw up a list of do’s and don’ts and define holiness by the sum total of everything we do – or don’t do.
Will strict observance of the Ten Commandments be enough? Or must we think of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day with their 600 or more clarifications of these commandments – and then add our own?
All this makes holiness seem either unattainable or just plain dull, miserable and unattractive as a lifestyle. It is challenging to work this out in the 21st Century, especially when we read But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. (1 Peter 1:15)
v 1. Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you.
There have always been those who think that Christian faith is a matter of what you believe. In general, there is a widespread assumption that religion is all about believing certain ‘facts’ regardless of any evidence to verify those ‘facts’. Christians, it appears, believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that he lived and died in Palestine, and that he possibly rose from the dead. If you happen to believe these things, good on you, that’s your business. Whether or not it affects the way you live is entirely up to you. Religion is about believing, they say, not about living.
From beginning to end, the Bible shouts something very different. It links believing with living; if you believe God (not just believe in Him) then you take seriously what He has to say about living. If you are convinced that ‘GOD IS’ then you will want to find out what He says about life and how it should be lived to please Him. Clearly, that formed a significant element in Paul’s preaching and teaching. Hence he writes live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. He taught them as much about living as he did about believing. It is not that he preached right behaviour as the way to become accepted by God, but rather that right living flowed from faith. He taught about life being lived in a way that pleases God. That is the essential definition of holiness. Holiness for us all is faith in practice in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
This is the theme of our readings this week.