The call to holiness is terrifying at the best of times. The Bible enjoins us to be holy, because God is holy, regularly repeated in the Old Testament, picked up in 1 Peter 1.16: for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy. Even more daunting are Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, calling us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is.
It’s not terrifying because I don’t understand it, but because I do. I am to be like God: there are no two ways about it. It’s not a warning so much as a given, a lifestyle command to the disciples of the Kingdom. And because I know myself only too well, it’s a command to a movement, a process, a journey, a dynamic change in which I expose my life to the gaze of those around me, so that they can help me to identify areas of work and potential growth.
It’s a work that the Holy Spirit must enable: the fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5 are after all, fruits of the Spirit, with the emphasis boldly put on God. My part is played by collaborating with God, and I want to suggest some additional and very practical ways of pursuing an feeding a holy life in the everyday things this Lent.
- At the beginning of the day, pray for the events of the day (so far as you know them) one by one. In so doing, you will enter those appointments and actions with the will to do them in the power of God.
- At the end of each day, respond thankfully to these actions and events by ‘counting your blessings, one by one.’ In so doing, you will create an inner environment of gratitude which will be likely to generate gracious attitudes in your thought and speech for several days to come.
- Identify one person to encourage by your true words. Don’t use flattery, and don’t overplay your words of encouragement, or they will sound hollow. It might simply be a compliment, or the voicing of a good thought about a sermon. How many of us never say thank you to the preacher!
- Look for one piece of good news on your favourite news channel, and make a note to talk about it to someone in the next few days. One I found today was that Atlantic Records is giving £26 million to Oxford University for student scholarships in the humanities. It’s hidden low down on the website, but it’s there.
- Send one less email, and make a lot of people happy.
I’d love to know what else you do to cultivate a personal environment of holy attitudes which lead to holy actions, so do please add your comments.