“For it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:16)
“Holy” is one of those ‘religious’ words that most of us feel conflicted about. Don Saliers writes:
Human beings are ambivalent toward holiness. We are drawn toward those qualities exemplified by a St. Francis or by Mother Teresa, or by communities who witness to the gospel under severe persecution. Yet we find such qualities disturbing, too far removed from the way we must live our daily lives. Something deep within our existence creates a restlessness for God, yet we live and move and work in a culture of technology, efficiency, and the tyranny of the literal. The hunger for holiness coexists uneasily with the practical atheism of our way of life. Still, the deepest language of the Christian biblical tradition claims that the created world itself already reflects the goodness of God but also groans in travail for sanctification and recreation. The time and place where these tensions intersect is the gathered church at worship. (Sanctifying Time, Place and People, by Don Saliers in The Weavings Reader)
We all know this tension. We reflect late at night on the kind of Christian that we want to be. Living in the flow of the spiritual fruits of the Holy Spirit – being patient, kind and good to all around us and communing with our God daily! Then we wake the next morning with a headache and curse the neighbor who has once again left his yappy dog out in the backyard to disturb our otherwise peaceful morning and go into our day with the demands of production upon us not feeling particularly holy at all. (For a classic expression of this tension, and how Satan intentionally uses it to keep us discouraged, read the first two short chapters of C.S. Lewis’, Screwtape Letters.)
Please reflect upon Saliers’ last sentence. The place where these tensions intersect is the gathered church at worship. Now, I know many of you read that and thought of your weekend worshipping church community. I suggest you re-read it with a different lens. Scripture says the Church is wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name. Yes, that can be a weekend community. It can also be your monthly Forum meeting where you gather to give updates to one another, encourage one another, confess sins to one another, pray for one another and build one another up. I would suggest the clearest way forward to dealing with the tension between the call to holiness and the mundane technical, efficiency driven world most of us walk in is to withdraw intentionally and periodically (weekly for weekend Church, monthly for Corpath Forum church).
In the confidential Corpath Forum community questions may be posed about how to be holy in a practical atheistic world. As we struggle with those questions and find our way toward our own answers, over time, we might be surprised that we are becoming holy!
- At your next Forum meeting go around the table and describe what holiness means to you?
- Share with your Forum how you struggle with the tension described above. Being called to holiness, but living in a practically atheistic world.
John Wiseman – Corpath – www.corpath.ca