1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Now here is the thing, I have been going to church since I was born in 1968. Yes, that is 46 years for you that do not want to do the math. In that time I have been in every category that you could put a person in that comes to church regularly. I have been a prisoner, where I was made to go to church. I have been a passenger, where I was there but really not involved in anything and not a benefit to the church in any way. I have served in almost every area of ministry that the church has at some point or another. I say that to say this, I have seen a lot of things happen in the church. One of the things that have me more concerned is the change in how we define holiness. The word holy in the Greek is Hagios, which means to be pure, consecrated and blameless. Holiness means to be separated from the world and in the way that we use to think before we came to Christ. Holiness is supposed to be the pathway of the church. We have been called to be holy because the God that we serve is holy and our task as Christians is to grow and mature and become more like Him every day.
When I was growing up in church you heard a lot about holiness. Now I did not grow up in a Pentecostal church but I did grow up in a church that preached and believed in living holy before the Lord. And I will admit that the church took it a little farther than it should have gone on the way we dressed and the things that we could not do focusing more on the legalistic sides of Christianity. We spend more time talking about what we could not do than we did talking about the power and joy of the Lord that comes with living a separate life. The problem is that once we learned that maybe we had taken it a little to far to the right, we seem to have swung all the way to the other side, like a zip line coming down the mountain. So now in the church, we look no different than the world that we are trying to reach with the gospel. When I was growing up in church no one even considered that it was ok to drink a beer. I mean that was totally unacceptable. Now we have people in the church, and I mean in all denominations, saying that it is ok to have one socially. The problem with that is, socially means different things for different people. Holiness says to stay away from anything that might pull you back. People argue that the bible does not say you cannot do it, but what they fail to hear is that in every case the bible does talk about someone drinking it is never a good thing, and most of the time people drinking in the Bible lead to someone getting naked and doing things they shouldn’t (example: Noah, Lot). What ever happened to being holy? I read this week where a pastor said that the best way to win someone to Jesus was over a beer. Really? I mean that is what it has come to? That Jesus’ power, His love, His mercy and His grace is not enough that I have to offer them a beer to listen? Why should the world want to come somewhere that is no different than where they are now? I mean if we look like the world and sound like the world then what is the use in coming to church? Where is the holiness of the church? We have denominations that are saying because the government passed a bill saying same-sex marriage was legal that it is now excepted by them. Really? Where is Holiness?
Holiness means set apart, that the Church is not supposed to look like the world and act like the world in order to reach the world. Holiness means that we are to be set apart and full of the power of God so that when the world looks at us that they see people that have been changed and something that is different. We are not perfect but we have been changed. Holiness is about the change. That I no longer look like what I use to but that every day I am looking more and more like Jesus. I am becoming more and more like Jesus. He is showing me more and more. And when people see me they see someone that is living the life of faith and loving God and loving them. Not agreeing with them because it is politically correct but standing up for the standards by which God has called me to live by. Living a life that is separate from the life that you lived before you come to know Jesus. Holiness is the standard by which God rules and it is the standard by which we must live. Holiness goes beyond what I can and can’t do but holiness goes into what I should and shouldn’t do. We work so hard in the church today to try and figure out what we can get away with but holiness is how can I get closer to Him, and how can I look more like Him. That means laying things down in my life and allowing Him to shine forth even more. Living a holy life is not all way easy but it is necessary if we are going to see God move in the church again. If anything, the church and the people of God should be a holy place and a holy people.