"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
I am thankful for that training and grounding in God's Word. Like so many things I learned as a child, however, this has been a concept that God has been "growing me up in" recently...taking it from the devotional lessons learned as a child and translating it into grown-up faith. In that same Daybook post, I mentioned being thankful
"For a pastor who loves God's Word and holds it in highest esteem, and who preaches the Word solidly, verse-by-verse, without apology..."
"For a minister of music who is committed to worship rather than entertainment, and who pushes us to excel musically for the Glory of God..."
I am so thankful for the way both of these proclaim and uphold the holiness of God, and for the commitment both have to "keeping holy that which is holy". Week after week as Bro. Kent preaches verse by verse in John on Sunday morning, and Revelation on Sunday nights, those early lessons in reverence and God's holiness are deepened and nailed down with solid doctrinal truth. And week after week as we try to make sense of the circumstances surrounding us, God "works it out" in us as He takes that teaching and makes it "real life", and causes it to take root deep inside of us and become part of who we are in Him. As I've blogged before ( here and here, among other places) about God's sovereignty and goodness, His holiness has become even more real and more precious through the events of the last few years.
I've pondered that a great deal recently, as God has *bombarded* me with this topic. I think my awareness of where God has brought me in this area began with a series of conversations friends and I had about a popular book we had decided to read. I knew from reading exerpts of the book that I had some real concerns about it, although I had been told that it was "life-changing" and a "must read". I read a few other exerpts, and some reviews, and realized that I was not going to agree with the author about his treatment of this topic of the holiness of God (among other things), despite the fact that he is a professed Christian and this is supposedly a Christian book. However, I still planned to read the book, having heard that there was much else in it that was good. I would be on my guard for that which was false, and pull out the nuggets of that which was good and profitable.
Then a friend called. "I cannot finish this book. I have gone as far as I can go and I can't read any further." I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was seriously disturbed by what she had read. As she began to read to me from the book, I began to feel almost physically ill. When she finished reading, I said, "That's enough. That's all I need to hear. I can't read this book."
While I understood...I think...what the author was trying to do in the pages my friend had read, the lack of reverence for the holiness and glory of the God who created the universe with His Word was like a hard punch in the stomach and a vile taste in my mouth all at once. "He's trying to put God on our level..." we said more than once during our conversation. As I discussed the book further with another friend, with whom I had planned to read and discuss the book, we talked about the fact that we couldn't get past the offensiveness of the "commonness" with which God was portrayed. I shared that I had decided that at least at this time in my life, I am simply not up to reading something that is so out of alignment with the holiness of God that has become such a deeply precious and awesome thing to me. Perhaps someday...but not now.
Almost immediately after those conversations took place, Bro. Kent made this statement:
"Profanity is treating anything that is holy as though it is common or worthless."
I suddenly realized that that was what concerned me...and my friends...about the book we had been discussing...and what concerns me about so many things in the world, and even the church...today. It came across to me as treating something that is holy...God, the Holy Trinity...as though it is common...a buddy, "the man upstairs", someone just like us. While I have always loved the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", the "friendship" of Jesus of which it speaks is much different than a buddy relationship. I firmly believe that it is not only possible, but necessary, to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him without ever losing sight of His holiness, majesty, and glory, which set the Creator apart from His created beings.
Recently we began learning a new chorus in choir...
The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your Presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It's only by Your Blood and it's only through Your mercy
Lord I come
I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You're due
O Lord I bring an offering to You
I bring an offering to You
I was so struck by those words.
"No mortal man would dare to stand before your throne....
It's only by Your Blood, and it's only through Your Mercy..."
How I need to remember that. When I start to become too casual about the way I approach God, too comfortable in His grace, and too cavalier about His forgiveness, I must remember that it is only by His blood and only through His mercy that I am able to come into His presence. Only because when He looks at me, He doesn't see my sinful self, but the righteousness of Jesus, am I not struck down.
May He make me more continually aware of His holiness and ever watchful of my reverence. And may I diligently follow in the heritage I've been blessed with in instilling reverence for His holiness in my children, all the while praying that He will "grow up" those lessons in them someday as well.
ETA: I have made *four* attempts to correct the spacing in this post. Blogger has apparently joined with Firefox today in an attempt to destroy what little sanity I have left. No matter what I do, I *cannot* make Blogger space between paragraphs like I tell it to do. As this post had already taken twice as long to write as I had planned, I am giving up on the spacing issues until tomorrow, with apologies to anyone who tries to wade through in the meantime. *sigh*