40 Blogs of Lent – Day 39
Church is Holy
What is church – Day 7
I appeal to you therefore,brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
An odd choice of Bible verse for a Good Friday blog, but bear with me, this is all about the cross.
St Augustine once prayed “Lord make me pure, but not yet.” He knew what God wanted from him, but was enjoying the life he lived. We are wary of giving our lives to God, because God might take us up on the offer.
The Church is holy. The church is not holy because of some holier than thou attitude but because it knows it is wholly dependant on God’s grace. It does not mean that Christians or the institution are without sin, the holiness of the church is not what it does, it does many fine things, but they do not make it holy.
What makes Christ’s Church holy is that it is Christ’s church, it is derived, not intrinsic. Holiness is the property of God and is attained by being in proximity to God.
What makes someone a saint is that God wants them to do something holy, not because they are holy. Jesus made himself holy on the cross so that we might be holy, if you want to know what holiness is, look at the cross. Holiness means sacrifice. We are to live cross shaped lives, a living sacrifice. We are to put ourselves on God’s altar, wholly set apart to what God wants. Sacrifice means surrender. It means everything. The church is to be Christ as community growing in the character of Jesus. Living the same sacrificial life that he did.
“The problem with living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” D L Moody
Holy is hard, the call to be holy comes from the cross, to be his. We are to become what we already are. We are called to be living sacrifices. The Old Testament law said that people ha to present a sacrifice from their flocks, once presented a sacrifice belongs to God, you cannot take it back. We have to do the same with their bodies, we offer them and they then belong to God.
Holiness has a long reach, it covers everything, in home life, in the market place and at work or school. Concrete acts of service are offered by our bodies. Every relationship is to be offered to God.
In the marriage service the bride and groom give each other a ring and give themselves to each other using these words, “All that I have I share with you,” “With my body I honour you,” “All that I am I give to you.” They give themselves fully and unreservedly. A relationship with God is like this.
Holiness is like that: It encompasses our relationship to:
- One another, Our enemies & evil doers,
- The state,
- The law of the state,
- The day of the lords return,
- The weaker members of the community.
You will find these covered in Romans Chapter 12 onwards.
Holiness has a call on our wallets, on us refusing revenge or tit-for-tat. It includes our minds. We have to let God change your mind. JB Phillip translated the verse above by saying, Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within..
We are either conformed or transformed, something is going to shape you. We are to be obedient no matter what the cost. All has been done for us on the cross where Jesus made himself holy, totally dedicated to doing God’s will for us and for our salvation.
Christ has made you holy, offer yourself to him continually and when you fail come back to him. That is the work of the cross.
Lord make me holy, and don’t wait.