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another look at holiness

I went to school today, which is unusual for a Friday, since the seminary doesn’t do classes on Fridays. But I went up there to do some research, and I was surprised to find a friend of mind preparing to preach for her advanced preaching class. She invited me to come and be part of the audience, because the place was pretty empty, and it’s no fun preaching to a handful of people. So I was glad for the opportunity to hear this sermon, from this particular preacher… (since last Sunday was Easter, and since I had my Homiletics class on Tuesday like normal, I think I’ve heard six or seven sermons this week alone!)

She preached from Ephesians 2:19-22, and part of the sermon focused on verse 21, which lifts up the concepts of unity and holiness, both important ideas in the Church of God.

Her take on the holiness part was especially interesting to me. “The whole building … rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” – the church, in its growth in Christ, grows in holiness. But this holiness is not for the church’s sake, not for bragging rights or self esteem points or anything like that. Instead, holiness is all about the revelation of God, through the church, to the world. The point of holiness – the reason why we strive to be wholeheartedly dedicated to Christ and his purposes – is so that God might be revealed through us to the world. In this sense, holiness carries with it a fundamentally missional orientation.

This is crucial, I believe, for us in the Church of God (and in the broader church) to understand and hear anew in the 21st century. We are called to be disciples of Christ in a culture in which religious discipleship is becoming increasingly irrelevant… we must understand our separation from the world as a means of reaching out to that same world. We must come to view ourselves with the type of humility that sees something bigger, something broader, something more divine taking place through our human lives. That’s part of what it means to be God’s church, anyway.

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