Holiness (part 3)

We have to define holiness by what we see in God, not define God by how we have understood holiness. The power of the holy invades the human world in order to incorporate it into its own sphere. Thus God elects Israel to participation in his holiness: ‘You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy’ (Lev. 19:2).” The election is not a salvation from, but an election to, an invitation to be with God as he is himself, in his future and in our present. Our selves with God’s self, in his eternity, in and for this world.

God’s holiness is his self, his identity that is both the hope and the terror of an incomplete human, who has no inherent identity. Instead of being whole, we are continually confronted with the reality of our lack and incompleteness. And that’s something the human ego strives against in all kinds of ways. In attempts to find our identity in different ways we go against God, go against each other, go against even ourselves. Because there’s no other way to find wholeness except in God, and any other way leads to destruction, emptiness, forms of control and even, as Paul says so well in Romans 7, slavery. Holiness is about finding our identity in the right way. Holiness is not, primarily, separation but rather it’s inclusion, inclusion into the life of Life itself, that is God’s self.

God’s holiness acts in contrast to the human ego, choosing continued openness, continued fellowship, even as this, for the sake of the people, entailed certain initial patterns and rules for interaction. God, in his holiness, in his very self, continued to love, as an inherent reflection of his true holiness. The holiness of God is not set in contrast to his love, but rather his holiness is his being that is expressed in love. In God, holy and love are the same. God is love. God is holy. Holy is love in God, and it is this love which seeks our inclusion into his holiness, into his wholeness.

God’s love for the world draws others from their incomplete state of isolation and into fellowship with God and with others. We are drawn by love into the holiness. By love into real freedom. But not freedom just to go back into slavery.

The wrath of God is not a reflection of his holiness, in contrast to his love. Rather, his wrath is a response to that which contrasts his love, contrasts his self which seeks inclusion in his holiness. He is angered by that which steers people away from their true self, away from true freedom, a freedom which can only be found in his true self. His love and his holiness are inclusive, seeking fellowship and his anger burns only when there are clear indications that this inclusion is being sidetracked by sin or by ego. Rather than let his creation persist in false forms of identity, that lead only to emptiness, God says no to these things.

Romans 8:20-22 says: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

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