Sunday, July 26, 2015

Identity in Christ - 30 (Holy)

Many people commonly define “holy” as “being righteous” or “being good.” But the idea associated with the word in the original language goes more along the lines of “set apart.” Kind of like when you put the good china in a separate place, away from the everyday stuff.
The Greeks used the word to mean “dedicated to the gods.” There is a connotation of “like the Lord, because unlike the world.”
God is holy, because he is totally unlike any other. He is infinite. He is the only one who thinks, speaks and acts 100% totally true to his nature. God has revealed his nature to us. We can always count on the fact that he will faithfully act as he has revealed himself. In that sense, he is totally predictable.
But, we don’t always know how God will work. That is not predictable by people. God always knows. People assume that when they have the ability to predict, it gives them some sort of control. And control usually results in the opposite of humility. God always acts in love. God always acts in righteousness. God always acts in ways that require us to pursue trust and relationship with him. So, sometimes surprise is healthy for us. Surprise can lead to wonder, awe and worship. 
Yes, God does reveal his intentions. He gives us instructions so that we can know him better. He gives us instructions that enable us to partner with him in establishing his kingdom, to growing as designed, to teach us his nature and how he defines the proper running of our relationship. But God reveals his plans in ways that empower these things, and weakens the tendencies people have of moving away from him and their design. 
People are holy, because they have chosen to accept God’s invitation to relationship. In giving allegiance to him, we dedicate ourselves to him.
● God's Perspective
There does seem to be a lot of debate about how God views his children. Who does God approve of? What does God approve of?
People who are "good?" People who keep the rules?  God does give standards for us to follow. Christian groups also give rules. Usually the group meets a situation in society, that does break one of God's commands. They agree together to not engage in this activity, to draw a distinction between themselves and society. This might be a very good thing . Especially if it opens up conversation between people, and draws them into relationship with God. Unfortunately, the rule often gets set in concrete, and stays forever. 
At one time, dancing took place in settings of dubious morals. So, Christians agreed not to participate. But there is a passage of Scripture that encourages dancing as worship. So, is dancing per se wrong? Or dancing in certain situations. What if, during a worship meeting,  a couple got up and did the jitterbug as an act of worship? In some places, many people would be offended. 
But what about God? If dancing the jitterbug was truly an act of worship, I think God would be pleased. If there hearts were not in the right place (showing off? protesting?) I think God would be grieved.
If holiness is drawing distinctions to show God's presence to the world, then God does not just look at actions, but attitudes and the heart.
● Living My Life
Holiness is living in distinction to the world, so that people are drawn to God's presence, God's nature and character, and ultimately,  relationship with God. Holiness is more than being good. Scripture says that love draws people to God.  Scripture says unity draws people to God. So, how God's family treats those in the "immediate family", in the "extended family", and those "outside the family" matters.
Many Christians conclude that having a high moral code matters. I will not dispute this. Yet, as we just asked, is dancing per se wrong? The Jewish leaders of Jesus' day had a high moral code. They had God's Word. One group, in order to ensure they obeyed God's Word, created over 600 regulations. In God's Word, God said that one day a week should be set aside for celebrating our relationship with him. So, no one should work that day. Some of these 600 regulations were intended to refine what work entailed. How far could a person walk before he was working? So, if you hiked up to the top of a peak, brought your lunch,  and your Bible, to pray and meditate, overlooking the valley,  maybe interceding for a village below, is God displeased because you broke a sweat on his day? 
Morals are important. Love is moral. Unity is moral. Stealing and lying are against good morals. And, yes, people seek to be released from morals, so they can feed their baser appetites. And, yes, maybe God's people should make declarations against those things. 
I consider our focus, intention s and actions should concern things that lead to a relationship with God. Jesus did not seem to focus on getting the wicked people to keep the rules. He knew that righteousness would come after relationship with Father. He focused on prayer to break through to people's hearts., love and service, and enhancing his family's relationship with him.
There is not one perfect to-do list that covers that. Unfortunately,  each one of us needs to develop their own to-do list.

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