Holiness is not defined by living, but by receiving.
Too often in
America, we equate holiness with action and living. Live in a holy
fashion - do X because X is a holy thing. Be ye holy -- so get to it.
we neglect or ignore in this whole approach (that we've picked up from
our Protestant and Methodist friends) is that holiness is not defined by
what I do or my actions, but by what God declares to be holy.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people for His own possession, that you might proclaim the
excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous
light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once
you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
made holy, receiving holiness from God, being called into the holy
nation is not defined by my actions - but it is something I have
received in mercy.
Do we forget that all those things listed in
the explanation to the first article of the Creed are holy? My marriage
is holy - not because I or my wife are such good spouses, but because
of all people in the world, God set apart my wife for me and me for my
wife -- he has made our marriage holy.
My whole life and being He
has made holy, for He has called me out of darkness and set me aside
from the world to be His holy servant. I happen to be a pastor... but
it's not being a pastor that makes me holy. My wife is a nurse -- she
is a holy nurse, for God has given her the talents she has and has put
her to use.
The food on my table - it is holy. It has been set
apart by God that I might recieve it with thanksgiving. Otherwise, how
would I dare pray before eating -- do we pray over and bless that which
is not holy? May it never be!
When we start think about holiness
in terms of what we do - our specific actions, when we take an "I have
done X volunteerism that I didn't need to do (see, that was right and
holy)" approach, we neglect what true holiness is.
God has set us apart for holiness.
does this manifest itself in our lives. Most surely! But I do not
make my actions holy (or holier) because *I* add anything to them. I am
holy in Christ Jesus, and that will spill out in me. And when I see
that I have been treating the things that God has called Holy less than
holy... if I disdain my wife, or my vocation, or my own body... then I
need to repent of my sin. Not so that I will be holy - but because God
has called and declared me to be holy - and I need always to remember
and be focused on His love for me in Christ Jesus and remember who I
truly am in Him. God's own forgiven and holy child.