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Holiness for Dummies

At a recent SMBI Sunday evening staff meeting, we engaged in several rounds of the Ungame. I was asked the question, “If you were to write an article, what would you title it?” The first thought that came to my mind was “Holiness for Dummies.” The first “for Dummies” book by Dan Gookin written in 1991 has mushroomed to include almost every conceivable topic including, Acne for Dummies, Fishing for Dummies (I wonder how many they have caught), Crosswords for Dummies and even A Little Bit of Everything for Dummies.

I checked with Amazon and Christian Books Distributors but found no title, Holiness for Dummies. Why not? Is there no need for such a book? Is our culture so informed about holiness that we need no help? Maybe it is because there are so few of us that know anything about this subject, that we can find no author suited for the task. Is there any source out there that can help us?

Absolutely! And the title of that book isn’t really all that different from the one suggested. Our source is saturated with insight and applications for holiness. What’s the name of the book? It is the Holy Bible, written by a Holy God for a Holy People who uphold Holy Living through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What the uninformed need to discover is that a life of holiness is not an austere life of seclusion in some Spartan cubicle wearing the attire of a monk. Aside from the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and temple, the holiest landscape this world has ever known was also the most beautiful environment it has ever had. The effervescent beauty of colors, the warmth of animated relationships, and the dynamic adventure of holy living all characterized the Garden of Eden. The absence of sin is the presence of beauty. Holiness is beautiful. The Garden, with its sublime ecstasy, was mankind’s rhapsodic encounter with unblemished beauty. Language struggles to articulate the otherworldliness of such an environment, yet it was experienced on earth by our first parents.

When sin tragically marred that holy beauty, God sent Moses to Mt. Sinai to receive His law. Here again, the unenlightened see the law as mere legalism. It is perceived as harsh, frowning, darkly complected and authoritarian. Holiness might be assumed by some to be a corollary to the law, but to see the law as beautiful would be a stretch for most theologians today. It wasn’t a stretch for David! Psalm 119 gives a perspective about the beauty of the law that few write about in our time. God’s primary purpose for the law was to create in Israel a beauty of culture that would captivate the nations around them. Moses told them, “Observe them (laws and decrees) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods
near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:6-8) The design of the law was to create a beautiful, captivating culture. The holiness of the law would cause the youth to retain their virginity, the populous to eat nutritious foods, the residents to welcome strangers, the people to be healthy, the builders to create safe homes and much, much more. The purpose involved the beauty of holiness. This environment was intended to give the world a taste of the beauty of holiness, the beauty of the original Garden. But Israel wanted to be like all the nations round about them. They lost their beauty.

Jesus came to reveal the beauty of holiness through a kingdom of people that are called out of the world’s system. The purpose of the church today is to again demonstrate the beauty of holiness to a world so full of ugliness. It is a very thin veneer of glitz that covers the awful brokenness of our fallen cultures today. Pain, anger, bitterness, vengefulness, hopelessness, suicide, murder, and drunkenness saturate the interior regions of culture and individual lives. The bubble of synthetic beauty pops to unveil the wretchedness within. When holiness is absent, beauty is but a mirage. The grave reality is penned by the writer of Hebrews, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

This is our calling! This is our privilege! This is our opportunity! As Spirit-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ we have the honor of pointing the lost toward the beauty of holiness, the beauty of Eden, the beauty of God! The first Adam failed. The Children of Israel failed. But, Jesus will not fail. He will show the world the beauty of holiness. He wants to show it through you!

 

Val Yoder



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