Holiness is life with God, for God, lived in fullness and wholeness. We can live with God, because God has called us, he has reached out to us to live in freedom from sins, in freedom from trying to assert our own identity, in freedom to live and share ourselves openly with others and with God. We don’t have to prove ourselves. We don’t have to try to dominate others. We don’t have to put on masks or fight for attention. We have our identity in Christ.
We are called to be holy, as God is holy, and this means living as God made us, as God sees us, trusting that it is only God who can validate or affirm who we are. In doing this, in trusting God, we taste the freedom of God’s Spirit who frees us to be who we truly can be. In tasting this freedom, in walking in this freedom we begin even now to experience what eternity with God is going to be like. This is a freedom that allows us to serve others, to be at peace with others, to be at peace with ourselves. This is a freedom that spurs us to creativity and community, not a freedom used to abuse but rather it is a freedom that helps others find their freedom. As we live in freedom, in the power of the Spirit we break the cycles of sin and death, we break the strongholds, and we reflect Christ to all around. This is good news for ourselves and for others.
Good news like we read about in Luke 1:68-79:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
This peace is holiness, this peace is love, this peace is whole and freeing relationships with God—in which he relates to us, trusts us, shares with us, draws us into his open presence. This peace is a whole and free relationship with others in which we can reflect God to those around us, no longer afflicted by their sins, no longer slaves to whatever attitudes or faults or whatever else other people have. Holiness is freedom because it releases us to live as people whose identity is fully confirmed by God. We don’t have to demand respect from others, we don’t have to seek approval from others, we don’t have to be susceptible to the moods or others.
If our eyes are fully on God, then we can finally be free to live with real peace, increasingly so in this present life and fully in eternity. “The best of all,” John Wesley said on his deathbed, “God is with us!” The best of all, God is with us. And he asks us to be with him, and our being with him, being with him and with others, acting in love towards him and our neighbors, is what holiness is all about.