But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (NLT)
That word “holy” is very rarely used in the way the Bible originally used it. To be holy is to be set apart for special use or to express a certain distinctive character. So we may have a Holy Bible or a Holy Table in a church, meaning they are special. So we worship a holy God because he is distinctive and set apart. In very general terms, he is special.
And so we are called to be holy because we are called to be human expressions of the character of God. We are to be a set apart people, a different people, a special people. We are to be positively different and so show the watching world what real life is all about.
Sadly, that is not always the case. Sadly, those who claim to be followers of Jesus or adherents of a particular church can be just like everyone else with a bit of religious talk thrown in. Sometimes we just blend in. Sometimes we stand out in the wrong way as eccentrics or sheer hypocrites.
If we can discover or recover the essence of holiness, we will bear better witness to a holy God. Holiness is not some super spiritual, unreal, unearthly quality that is confined to gurus or freaks. It is part and parcel of Christian living. It is not something for the spiritual elite but for everyone who seeks to be like Jesus.
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Holiness ultimately means we are not just seeking to be like everyone else, but we are seeking to be like Jesus.