I remember a few years back when I was working as a custodian at a middle school and at the time I had no vehicle. So, day after day, I would ride the bus and get as close as I could (this was about a mile and half away.)
Since I had gained quite a bit of weight I used this opportunity to walk to school and drop some of the weight gain. As I began to lose weight, I began the process of running. If you’re a runner, then you know there’s a process behind it, where you run and you are constantly making the attempt to go further the next time. That’s precisely what I did. However, I had a challenge ahead of me and that was this steep hill which came just before the school.
Again and again I found myself failing. I was able to run to the hill and then walked the remainder of the way. Then I began to run up part of the hill and would have to slow down to a walk. It took a number of weeks but I remember one day, I ran up the hill and I didn’t stop until I reached the top.
I had achieved my goal!
As a believer and follower of Jesus, I often set goals for myself. I have this idea in my head of what I should be and what I should accomplish. I have these goals because I want to serve God but over the years I’ve realized that the hill I am climbing never seemed to end. The hill I have in mind is being holy.
When I think of holiness, I often think of doing things. I think of pure thoughts, living a certain way and not being contaminated by the world around me. This always aligned with the commands of God. There is the specific command to “Be holy” which is echoed in both the Old and New Testaments.
What does Peter mean though in this passage? What is God’s command here? The answer just might change your life.
(1) The calling to be.
Our calling to be holy is in the active participle, which means, we already are holy. We are not holy nor obtain holiness by what we do but rather because of who Jesus is. 1 John 2:17 b “…As he (Jesus) is so are we in this world.”
While we fight against our flesh in this world, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. I want to make this clear- I have sinned and fell short of the glory of God.
No matter what I do, what I say or how hard I try, I can’t change that. Because I have fallen short, Jesus came and died for me. It was my failure to live up to God’s standards that brought death into my life. Yet, God in his loving kindness sent his Son, Jesus to die for my sin.
My sin, your sin, our sins are a BIG DEAL! Make no mistake about that. Grace does not imply that sin isn’t an issue. Grace identifies with us that there is a need because of sin in our lives and that need is for a Savior.
The reason why the Apostle Paul said that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ are of first importance (2 Cor. 15:3-4) is because his sacrifice is greater than our faults. Yet, Christ is greater than our sin. The sacrifice he made, he offered once and for all.
While our sins provided the need for the sacrifice, the sacrifice became the greater work and the finished work is the foundation upon which believers stand. Our calling to be holy begins with the understanding that we are holy because Christ is holy and has called us holy.
(2) The calling to imitate.
The life we are called to live (following God’s commandments) is simply a calling to imitate the Father. Being holy is an aspect of our relationship with God as our Father. The Word of God says “Be imitators of God therefore, as dearly loved children.” (Eph. 5:1) The focus is on our identity as children who are loved. Love is the motivator, compelling us to live lives that are worthy of the calling.
The Greek term Paul used in Ephesians is mimetai, from which we get the word, mimic. We are to copy the behavior, pattern and attitude of the Father in heaven. We do this by pursuing God and getting to know him.
The heart of God desires that we imitate him by loving him and loving others. When we love we fulfill his law. When we love, we bring him glory. So, let us be kind to each other. Let us speak words of encouragement to other believers. Let us live in peace with everyone. Let us show honor to others.
(3) The Calling to become.
Holiness is not something that we earn or achieve. Holiness is an expression of our identity in Christ. Holiness is revealing the life of Christ who lives in us. “And what God wants is for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time… For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy (Hebrews 10:10, 14)
Holiness comes through the sacrifice of Jesus. When we live our lives focusing on the finished work of Christ, we are both made holy and are becoming holy in the sight of God. Because Christ is alive, holiness is possible, here and now.
Believers in Christ Jesus are holy. This is the relational aspect we are given because of who he is and what he has done. We become holy as we allow his grace and Spirit to transform us and empower us to live in a way that brings God glory. As we pursue God as dearly loved children, we begin to imitate his character and become holy.