Tuesday, September 4

Why Holiness?

In my previous post I talked about faith and ended by saying, "I have confidence that no matter WHAT those scans might show the doctor that the outcome will be the same, God will be making me more holy."

Within a few hours I found myself asking, "Why holiness?" Yes, I have faith that God is pushing me towards holiness... but what does that mean? Why holiness and what does it mean exactly?

Right off the bat I found a quick definition for holiness that included "separated, called out, set apart." In the old testament (OT) Israel was called to be a Holy nation, set apart from other nations. (The whole book of Leviticus is practically dedicated to this, feel free to poke around there for more details.)

I found myself wondering what that looks like today. Pre-sickness I am sure I would have said something like, "Being counter-cultural, even if the prevailing culture is 'Christian'." But frankly I am not sure about that post-sickness. In a lot of ways I feel like today when people think about being "counter-cultural" they come up with ways that alienate other people, not really draw them into wanting something that they have. (Super-strict Christian denominations/ sects come to mind on one end.)

Going with the theme of being called out I feel like in one respect cancer is my holiness. I've been called out of the normal life I thought I was going to live and have been called to think and live life differently than other people my age.

But the very nature of having cancer does not make me holy. I am not suddenly justified by my sickness. Cancer changed my state, and part of that is towards holiness, but I could have just as easily hidden it, not said a word about it, and remained silent about what God was doing in my life.

Another part of the word holiness is being clean, pure, and sacred. One definition says it is to be "like God". This is more what comes to mind traditionally when I hear the word holiness. I said that God was moving me towards holiness by my cancer. What did I mean by that? In any trial or difficulty we have essentially two options: Pursue God or pursue ourselves. Even after years of turning to God and asking for wisdom, I still don't even know how much of my choices in hard times are in pursuit of myself. I can only imagine "I want to live" as a pretty strong personal pursuit.

It comes down to wanting what God wants. God wants us to be like Him. He says so the OT and the NT. (in 1 Peter 1:13-25 which is a repeat of Leviticus 11:44.) "Be Holy, because I am Holy" "Want what I want, be like me."

How much does that make sense inside of all of us? We love something and we want to emulate it or hope it emulates us. Kids (easy answer), role models, friends, and family. I'd go so far as to say even something as mundane as computer programming, or art, or music is making something into the image WE have for it, and at the same time trying to get others to see life as we see it.

Holiness is emulating God. Why do I want to emulate God? The bible is full of perfectly good examples and reasons. A very deep part of me wants to emulate God, to try and be holy, because selfishly I hope it'll get me out of this problem. (Cancer) I'm aware of it. It's not easy, and I don't want to make you think I have somehow been perfected in my sickness. No, I want to live, I want to see what God will do with me... but frankly a LOT of the reasoning behind that is selfishness. God's called me out to be different. (Wow! Awesome!) And now I want to stick around long enough to see what that looks like for other people. I know God uses everything, and He has been using my selfish desire to stay alive in your lives.

I want you to know that holiness is something I am striving for. I say I want what God wants, but what if what God wants is my death? What if God wants me to live in horrible horrible pain and suffering? What then? Do I still want what God wants? How far will I follow? Where is the line?

Last night as I was word studying holiness I came across a comment that suggested the dichotomy of the Greek for holiness (hagios) was hagos, which translates "an awful thing". Sanctification... holiness, being more like God, isn't easy, and though it might be something we say we want, don't we really all view the process as, "an awful thing"? Isn't that why I am asking you all to pray for me to be healed? Isn't that selfish? How far am I really from wanting what God wants? Do I chose, will I continue to choose, the awful thing if it brings me closer to God?

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