What is God's idea of holiness? I've come to realize that his idea of holiness and my own differ. The more I open myself up to God the more aware of this I become. In my younger years I thought that the more a person prayed and went to church the holier they were. Needless to say, I was often very surprised at the "unholy" things some of them did. This frustrated me to no end as a teenager and young adult. My thought was this:
"If you were going to do deeds of darkness then why pretend that you were really doing God's work by praying and going to church, too?"
I didn't really understand human nature. Everything was black and white for me and when gray mixed in so did confusion. I grew older and began to see that sanctification was God's work... but requires a response from us. As I matured in prayer I began to see that prayer itself isn't holiness. Prayer is more like a lever that God uses to pry open our hard hearts. If our nature wasn't fallen, prayer would be unnecessary. We are fallen, however, and the intimate communion we once shared with God isn't there like it once was. It takes work now...both on our end and God's end.
Prayer changes as the heart is opened. We soon come to realize that we are not holy and need the transforming power of God's grace in our daily lives. We also see that our own thoughts on holiness do not have much resemblance to God's thoughts on holiness. How do I know this? By the contradictions in the lives of most (all?) people, myself included. It reminds me of my post yesterday about the mixture of organic milk and junkfood cereal - God's love being the organic milk and our sins the junkfood. God pours his love and wholesomeness on our sinful hearts, rids us of the poisons we have carried around with us, and infuses us with his own goodness. His desire is to fill us with good things but we often cling to the poisons that harm us instead. (I should have put fruit in the cereal yesterday, I would have had a great time with that analogy!)
What is holiness, anyway? I can explain it intellectually ... but my heart is still a bit unsure. What I do know is this:
God will work it out.