December 24: Holiness, John 17:6-19

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

In junior high, all students were placed in a clan of sorts and I was part of the McKenzie clan. Others were part of the Thompson and Fraser. (Our principal must have had a Scottish background.) Every year there were sports competitions between the clans and it was a great privilege to be chosen to represent your clan in the final competition.  You were set apart, supposedly the best of the best in your clan. Your goal was to win together.

Holiness is the act by which God sets apart a group of people to represent him, to bear witness of his character and his goodness. It’s not a competition but a collaboration with God and with others. Holiness and holy living is a team activity, not to be carried out alone. Jesus prayed that the Father might “sanctify them in the truth…” This truth is not some abstract construct, but one that is lived out in fellowship with one another, and expressed in these words “…that they may be one, just as you Father, are in me and I in you, that they may be in us, so that the world might believe that you have sent me.” It is a truth that is lived out in relationship with one another. Holiness is the expression of life lived out together in Christ. As such, holiness is often very messy because it requires from us a commitment to forgive one another, to confront one another, to live authentically before one another as we together live obediently to God’s word and God’s ways. 

Eugene Peterson makes this observation: “Holy Living – which involves being agents of the Holy Revolution – requires us to be obedient in the place we find ourselves, faithful in work and worship. The circumstances are more often than not wilderness circumstances. But what we can be quite sure of is that the Holy God’s unmanageable but irrepressible life, is ever present and hidden within and around us. Unpredictably but most surely it breaks forth into our awareness from time to time: the bush blazes, the heavens open, the temple rocks, the stump blossoms. Holy, Holy, Holy!”

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