This happened for me last night while I was sitting in church. The pastor was preaching on the holiness of God; teaching how God’s holiness has implications for His people.
In short: God is holy and His holiness cannot be contaminated with anything unholy. God’s holiness requires that He be separate from anything unholy. That’s a problem for us–because we are a most unholy bunch. Not one among those of whom the world calls righteous lives up to God’s standards of perfection. Only Jesus. Jesus brings a reconciliation plan for unrighteous man to be restored to the holy presence of God. Thus, the sacrifice of Calvary–the blood shed for the institution of the new covenant…of which you and me can be a part of.
I’ve understood this on a personal level for some time, but last night my mind made an association it had not before.
Strangely, from the moment the Power Point title page of “Set Apart” flashed on the screen I started thinking about one of my favorite verses:
“God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (Psalm 68:6)
Family is one of the most beautiful of God’s creations. I have spent much of my adult life studying the family–what the Scriptures say about it, what makes one work well, and what makes one struggle. My own family is dear and precious to me beyond words. My heart grieves the loss of dear people in my life whose families are painful places for a number of different reasons. I love that one of the names for the church is the “family of God.” I rejoice that God’s commitment to the generations is expressed in families–be they birth families, step families, adoptive families or church families. Recently, I’ve become involved with dog showing and I’ve noticed the familiar fondness the members of the club demonstrate for one another. The power of family is so strong that you will find them everywhere. Somehow as part of God’s design, families complete us.
As it was for Adam in the garden, it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone, and so God sets us in families.
And those families and their love change us. Families have a “way” about them; a style that is all their own. My own family is quirky. We laugh a lot–and loudly–usually at inappropriate places and times. People stare at us, and none of us care. We fight to the death over things we believe true, but hold on with sweet grace to one another. My contagious case of stubbornness has been caught by my children, as has too their father’s tenderness. To be a member of our family is to act in such a way as to represent the family name.
Being a member of the family of God works the same way. We have been “set” into God’s holy family. Participation in it means we are going to adopt the ways of God. Not through effort and striving, but through the bonds of love that imitation can’t resist. I’ve never met a woman who was “trying” to be like her mother. No, quite the contrary! But we can’t resist the draw to imitate those traits with which we have been most accustomed.
Holiness is the family way. In point of fact, we were all lonely being separated from God. “God sets the lonely in families.” Because of Jesus, we can be reconciled with the Holy One. He sets the sinner in holiness. Not our own, but Christ’s–He gives us Christ’s righteousness and calls it ours! And so, we can pray “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.” As my own children can’t help but demonstrate their belonging to our family name, so too, we children of God demonstrate His. Holiness is the family way.
How will your express the family way today?