What do you think about my assertation yesterday that our chief aim on earth is to be holy? Actually, might it be better to say it is to BECOME holy? But what is holy?
The Smart Lookup of my email program says holy is an adjective. It describes something “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.” Sacred is also an adjective describing something “connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.” Once I go to the bible dictionaries, it’s not so simple.
There is no nice, concise definition that is easy to understand. But, let me try paint the picture that is in my mind. Let’s look at something Peter has written:
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Peter is making the case that we are different from other people. Very different. I’m reminded of something Jesus said that has always messed with me.
Matthew 5:14-16 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I’m no expert, but verses 14 and 15 seem to be what God has done for us in our justification, the moment he sealed us with the Holy Spirit. Spiritually speaking, we are now the light of the world and the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. Jesus has not hidden our light with a basket but intends it to shine for all to see. Verse 16, however, seems to me to be our responsibility. God gave us light and intends for that light to shine on the whole world. Interestingly, this leads me to the verse that my blog is named after:
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
It seems to me Matthew 5:16 and this verse have something in common that is very interesting. Both speak of the glory of God. This is the key. Our holiness is directly related to glorifying God. The thing about Matthew 5:16 that’s always stumped me is that people are to see our good works – why? To give glory to our Father who is in heaven.
The question then has to be asked – When people see my good works, do they give glory to God? Let’s face it, our reaction to this verse is to feel we need to be doing more and better deeds. Perhaps I should work with Habitat for Humanity or something like that. You know what I mean? But here’s the deal – lots of people do lots of good deeds, the majority of whom are not true believers. They do good deeds but cannot shine God’s light because they do not have the light in them. Remember what Jesus said, in that same sermon? “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46) How, then, can we get people to give glory to God when they see our good works?
I think the problem is that we confuse deeds with works. Let’s take a peek at another verse.
John 6:28-29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Could it be, then, that people might give glory to God (Matthew 5:16) not in what we do, but in who we are? Of course we are to do nice things for people, but if people aren’t glorifying God, then they aren’t seeing God’s light that we are supposed to be shining. If that is the case, people cannot tell the difference between you or I and the rest of the world – enemies with God.
So, who are we? Do we look like the people God has appointed us to be? How should we look compared to the rest of the world?
Father, keep me chasing this rabbit. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers