Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.Leviticus 19 v2
What does being holy actually mean? This often seems to be unclear to us, and various images and thoughts can come to mind, often from popular culture, such as: Sitting on a cloud playing a harp…disconnecting from the world…unctuously pronouncing judgment from a ‘holier than thou’ position….
Even in Christian subculture, we seem to have various images: Revival meetings and ‘old time’ religion…prohibitions against various moral transgressions and outward displays of morality – honesty, purity etc. (Note, this is not to dismiss such things as irrelevant.)
Either way it seems to denote something that is painfully unachievable. Something that belongs to God alone, a bar so very high the only thing we can to is try to outwardly pretend to be meeting it. We all do this. I do it, you do it.
Our Father God understands.
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.Matthew 23 v4
There is nothing new under the sun. We still try to achieve what is impossible for us. But God has our backs, literally.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11 v28-30
While I was pondering this the other day, what came to me is that to be Holy is to be Real. By this I mean that we only become fully ourselves when we are holy.
Consider those who have committed great wickedness over years. Typically such people become beasts – in treating other people as less than human, they become less than human themselves. It is as if their ‘consciences have been seared with a hot iron’. They become unreal, a dark shadow of the person they could have become.
But to be holy – this is to enter more and more into the heart of God, and to let His heart enter yours. His holiness makes you holy. ‘Be holy as I am Holy’ is not a demand, it is an invitation. It’s never something we can do in our own strength. Pretty much, all we can do is ask for help and surrender ourselves, warts and all, to Him.
And the strange thing is, as we enter in to Him, and journey into His heart, as we surrender ourselves more and more – we become more and more Real. This is the opposite of Buddhist thinking, where you lose yourself in the great other. This is God’s reverse creation, where as we become less, we become more ourselves.
One day, we will stand in His presence. That day, we will be fully Real, as He is Real!