As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1: 14-16

The first thing that comes to mind with Peter’s words here is, “Holy? Who me, holy?” I know my mind, and its contents are nothing even remotely close to that standard. I also have an idea of how I live my life, and that is certainly not something that I would describe as holy. Yet, Christ seems to think that even I can be the sort of person that could be called into holiness as my way of going through life and as the description of who I have become because of Christ’s presence in me. Peter understood this dilemma, for he had lived in the center of it for many years. He was a passionate man, and he tended to speak and to act out of his emotions far before he considered the impact or the effect of what he was about to say or do. 

Now Christ reminds him that the redemptive work that was done on the cross has removed all of Peter’s obligation to his former life and has removed him from the need to obey the rule of this world. When he was called to Christ, he was also set free from the oppression of his former life, and the barriers that his disobedience had erected between himself and God were broken down and removed in their entirety. Now he could think, speak, and act in a manner that was contradictory to the methods and the manners of the world around him, and he was empowered to cast off the way of living that was grounded in fear, fueled by anger, and designed to gain control that had been what he was taught and encouraged in during the days before Christ. Christ brought Peter into the center of a new gospel of love, peacemaking, and restoration. In Christ he was now seen as holy by God, and he was to be known as holy by the world as well.

So too, are we to be known in our world, for, in Christ, we are all redeemed from that same form of captivity to the world’s approach to relating to others and to God. As it was with Peter, this is a work in progress at this time; although, Christ’s work is completed and perfect, the transformative work that the Spirit is doing within me is perfect but it will be complete beyond this life. Until then, I, like all followers of Christ, live in the tension of our calling to be holy that stands in contrast to the daily reality of the many ways that the heart and the mind prove to be something less than that. This is the place where grace stands as God’s healing potion. This gift of loving understanding and permission to continue on despite my failings and weakness is a part of God’s unending encouragement to each of His people to continue on in this journey of hopeful obedience. So, when Christ tells us to live as holy people, He is not calling us into failure or defeat, but rather, the Lord is leading us into His assured possibility of living in the world as His redeemed and transformed people.  

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 6: 3

 

The Seraphim speaks, and from that place close to the throne of God profound truth pours forth. As Isaiah tells about what he saw in that great vision of the Lord, we are informed regarding important aspects of the fundamental reality where we dwell as followers of Christ. God truly rules this world. This is a season in the long history of Creation wherein Satan’s reign of evil has impact and retains the power that we humans unleashed into our world. But there are limits on his capacity and on his authority, and the time for him to have any influence at all is now quite short. Even at this moment, Satan’s gains are minimal in relationship to those of Christ.

 

Christ works in this world to bring people into the light of God’s saving truth and then into living the righteous life that comes out of that truth. He elevates us out of our natural and worldly habitat so that we now dwell in spirit in God’s holy place of righteousness, love, and grace. Yet, our feet are still attached to the dirt of this world, and our bodies reside within its borders. However, those borders are all encompassed by a greater boundary that is God’s kingdom. This is where God’s glory overcomes all that Satan’s evil attempts to bring about. In Christ, each of us is a citizen of this heavenly nation with full rights and responsibilities of that citizenship. We are free to live out the truth of God’s Word without concern for what others may think, say, or do. Yet, we are also responsible for living in the full expression of that word’s redemptive purpose.

 

This brings me to the point of Isaiah’s words for me today. The Lord was calling Isaiah out of living as a follower of the ways of his world and into that extraordinary realm of separateness that is God’s holiness, His purity and truth, while also sending Isaiah into that same world as a person who would live out that righteousness and speak the hope of redemption and restoration into a dying land. I think that Christ is calling upon me to do the same things. Christ’s purity and love bring my sinfulness into the bright light of exposure that leads to repentance while His grace forgives all of it. Then He, as He did with Isaiah, sends me into my world to live in a manner that brings the presence of God’s glory into the lives of others.