Holiness is a topic that churches need to talk about more. We talk pretty easily about church growth strategies, staffing issues, and discipleship and evangelism programming. We are quick to discuss the things that frustrate us or pass along a bit of gossip. What we don’t talk about often are strategies to help people pursue holiness. According to Paul, we should be actively pursuing holiness.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
When we do talk about holiness, we tend to do so because we think our pursuit of purity will somehow please God and cause Him to love us more. Pursuing holiness becomes the way in which we are able to manipulate God into earning his love. But, that isn’t how it works. We can’t earn God’s love. We can’t earn our salvation. We can’t earn our sanctification or our place in God’s Kingdom.
God already loves us and our pursuit of Holiness should be born out of His love freely given. We do not perfect our holiness because It gets us something, we do it because we have already been given something. Pursuing holiness is a response to God’s grace already given to us. It is a response to salvation freely given in and through Jesus. It is a response to God’s unfailing, incalculable, unfathomable love for us while we were still steeped in sin and unrepentance.
We are called to holiness. We can’t get around that. It is part of what it means to follow after Jesus. But, holiness isn’t a means to manipulate God, earn his favor, or a way to demonstrate we have earned our salvation. Holiness is a byproduct of grace freely given through faith in Jesus. As we pursue Jesus, we are pursuing holiness, perfecting it as the Holy Spirit works to make us more like the one we follow.
Questions for Reflection?
- Are you pursuing holiness?
- What things stand in the way of you pursuing holiness?
- Is the pursuit of holiness a way in which you try to earn something from God?