“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)
That word seems as distant and arcane to us as some far off tribe.
Yet when we try to define it we get a few images.
Maybe we think of moral purity?
No sex before marriage?
And those are true. But true in a minuscule kind of way.
Like pouring out a bottle of water when asked to describe a waterfall.
Holiness is something altogether different and higher than mere morality.
And though Holiness is never something LESS than moral standards, it is always something MORE than moral standards.
When we pull back the curtain to see true Holiness we are awestruck by two characterstics… “otherness” and “purity”.
These two words are exclusively true of GOD.
And it is only when we enter into relationship with HIM that it can become true of us.
God is the only one who is completely unique or “other”.
There is no created being that is entirely unique. A Zebra may have a stripe pattern that’s one of a kind, but he’s still a Zebra. The same goes for us. No matter how unique we are, we’re still humans. Still apart of one species.
God has no species. He holds no similarities to anyone or anything. He is utterly singular.
He stands alone.
Apart… from all of us…. from everything.
So Holiness is a word that describes someones nature and position just as much as it describes someones character or purity.
In fact God’s moral purity is a direct result of His “otherness”. There is NO ONE who is morally perfect expect Him.
There is no one as wise or good or loving as Him!
And these moral attributes are not only perfect, but so intense as to be more than we can bear to look upon.
Unimaginable goodness, purity, and love. This is what Holiness is.
Not just purity or goodness… but purity and goodness that is completely singular and unmatched in all the universe.
The amazing thing his that we are called to partake of this holiness. How? How on earth can we be holy?
The Holy One had to come.
Ever other religion tries to open the “bottled water” of morality, while Christ stands amidst a tumult of glory, inviting us in.
Other religions start with a moral ethic that works it’s way to God.
Christianity starts with a moral God who worked Himself to us. A God who surges toward us with terrible power and love.
One of the most profound truths of Christmas is that the God who is completely “other” than us (as God) … became similar to us (as man).
The Holy One came. So that through Him we might become holy.