Holiness simply means that as followers of God, we are different from people who don't follow God.
When we look at the Bible, it is very clear that we are not different because we are "perfect", but because we have God's spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22) and it is the primary force that drives our actions and attitudes (Romans 8:5-9). God is love, and if we are followers of God we are set apart from this world not by our high moral standards, but by our LOVE (1John 4:7-8, John 13:35). The holy spirit is not an annoying conscience that we can push to the side when it tries to keep us from watching bad movies. It is a raw force of the universe whose power transforms lost causes, revitalizes melancholy hearts, and always acts in heroic and sacrificial love.
If being Holy looks like God's spirit acting through us, then being holy looks like love and the Holy Spirit. Less like being "perfect" and more like:
- Forgiving people who don't deserve it.
- Not letting jealousy or bitterness ruin our relationships.
- Being humble and not having to be "right".
- Serving other people even if it means we can't do something for ourselves as a result.
Holiness doesn't have to look like this,
It looks a lot more like THIS.
Holiness has nothing to with us "quitting sin". It has everything to do with us deciding to live in a way that is led by God's spirit of LOVE. Even though everyone who believes in God and follows him has his spirit in their life, we all know it doesn't always feel or look that way. How do we unleash this powerful spirit that fills our life and transforms the world around us? God says the best way is through obedience (1 John 5:2-4).
We don't stop sinning to GET holy, we stop sinning because we ARE holy.
I saw a documentary on the vegan lifestyle (I was not converted, but still impressed). They were explaining how making the transition off of processed foods is really challenging, and your body truly needs to "detox". They recommended NOT going cold turkey, if you try to go vegan by "giving up" foods you love you will fail every time. Instead they said to slowly just add more vegetables into your diet. As you do that, you experience the energy and health that come with it and slowly the vegetables just naturally push the junk food out. So in theory, instead of clinging to your Cheetos bag, you won't even want it any more. That's really how holiness and sin work. We are all clinging to our little addictions or habits, and letting go feels impossible and honestly undesirable. But the closer we get to God, the more natural obeying him will feel.
Getting closer to God can feel intimidating, and it's hard to think of all the changes you would need to make for a spiritually "healthy" lifestyle. It doesn't have to be overwhelming, he is closer than you think. He is ready and waiting to do all the heavy lifting (Matthew11:28-30). Unlike all those times I have tried and failed to "get in shape", I'm not alone on my spiritual journey.
My relationship with God is driven far less by my own will power than by His grace.
And as hard as it may feel to take the first step, Holiness is truly God's plan to make us HAPPY. It will be worth it. If you're up for the adventure, here's some simple ideas of how to get started "eating your veggies".
Practical Tips for a Spiritual Detox:
- Ask God to help you Tell him you want to spend more time with him and learn his wisdom. Admit that you will give up quickly on your own. Ask for his voice of encouragement and love to strengthen you. (Hebrew 13:20-21, James 1:5-7, 2 Peter 1:2-4)
- Read your Bible everyday (Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Start with just a verse of the day, it will take you less than 5 minutes to read.
- Work your way up to 15 minutes a day when you are ready. This should cover about a chapter a day. Start with a small book like Ephesians or James, it will feel good to finish it in less than a week.
- Spend some time reading through a gospel, like John, it's a great way to get to know Jesus as a person.
- Start with asking God to be present in your journey to get closer to him.
- Move on to being thankful. Give god credit for at least one thing you are thankful for and praise him everyday, even if it is combined with a simple mealtime prayer at first.
- When your heart is ready. Ditch your baggage. Confess the things that have been keeping you far from God and ask for his help to claim your victory over your addiction to sin. (2Timothy 2:21)
- Choose who you listen to
- You will be listening to God through prayer and reading his word, but this world is a noisy place. Choose some of the other messages that come into your brain wisely. Consider listening to classical or Christian music, thinking critically about the movies and TV you watch, and trying to make as much in your life consistent with hearing God's voice as possible.
- Get in the real world
- Make sure that you are getting the right support for your journey to get closer with God in a solid Christian community at a church or with Christian friends who are encouraging you. (Hebrew 10:24-25)
- God's spirit will transform your heart, don't let it stop as a personal experience. Practice the same love and forgiveness you are experiencing with the people around you. Either through volunteering to help your community or by taking a step to let God heal a broken relationship you are holding onto by forgiving and reconciling with someone.
May God's love guide, protect and strengthen you on your adventure!