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Called Unto... What?

This week we begin a new series around the theme of holiness. Now, if you did not know, Community Cup is part of a denomination, the Church of the Nazarene, and our denomination has three Core Values: We are a Christian people, a Holiness people, and a Missional people. Our "theme song" is the hymn Holiness Unto the Lord, and our logo contains the words "Holiness Unto the Lord" in it. Clearly, holiness is really important to us. But what is holiness?

Think about what comes to mind when you read the word holiness. Our understanding of the word is usually related to morality: acting in a way that is good or right. That's part of the picture, but it is not the whole thing.

According to the Global Wesleyan Encyclopedia of Biblical Theology, “Holy, Holiness, and other similar root words occur 850 times in the Bible.” Yet the word holiness is never defined within its pages. Instead, it is inferred throughout the story of the Bible. It is the "intrinsic essence" of God, who defines holiness in His being.

Now that sounds a little abstract, doesn't it? Let's back up a bit. The Hebrew word for holiness is קֹדֶשׁ, transliterated as qodesh (kah-desh), and it means "set apart." In the coming weeks we will dive more into the Hebrew Bible's understanding of holiness, but it is important to recognize that even at the very beginning of the Genesis scroll, holiness is all about God. Let's look at the first two times that the word “holy” is used in the Bible.

The first is on page two of the Bible, Genesis 2:3:Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

God made something holy, because on it He rested. The 7th day is holy because of its special relationship with God.

Now let’s jump to the second time the word holy is used. In Exodus 3:5, God spoke to Moses through the burning bush that was NOT being destroyed by the fire. “Do not come any closer,” God said, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” God told Moses, the place you are standing is holy ground.

How was the ground made holy? It was God’s relationship with the ground that made the ground holy.

How was the 7th day made holy? It was God’s relationship with the day that made the day holy.

When we talk about holiness during this series, we are not talking about legalistic list of rules of dos and don’ts. Nor are we talking about something that only certain Christians experience. Holiness is actually something that we are all called to experience, because we all have access to God.

And remember: anything or any person that is holy, is only holy because of its relationship to God. We do not make ourselves holy, God makes us holy.

God is holy and God offers holiness to us. God accomplishes holiness in us. We just cooperate with God in making us holy as we love God, love others, and love ourselves.

There is a common misconception out there that God can't stand to be around sin. In reality, however, it is just the opposite: Sin can't stand to be around God!

Jesus demonstrates God has no problem touching the impure or unclean. Jesus demonstrates the fact that God’s habit is to go towards the people who are impure and unclean and heal them, purify them. Jesus demonstrates that God actually makes friends with sinners! Did you know that was a reputation of Jesus? Jesus was known as a friend of Tax Collectors and Sinners! The religious leaders despised Jesus for that.

It's important for us to realize that God is not afraid of our sin. God has never felt insecure or afraid of our sin. Our God who is perfect, beautiful, powerful, compassionate, gracious, slow-to-anger, abounding in faithful love, forgiving and just, never retreats from us when we sin. He pursues us even when we sin.

One way to define or visualize sin is as ruptured relationship. When we sin, we are moving away from God. But God is in the business of restoration. God is the perfect Father; He is always ready to welcome us back to him.

No matter how badly you think you have messed up, no matter how lost you think you are, God never loses track of you. There is actually no place you can go where God is not there—we read this in Psalm 139:

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

The Holy Spirit is never petty. Even when we retreat, God does not move on from us or give up on us.

May this be an encouragement to all of us who have felt far from God, for anyone with a loved one that has kept their distance from God, for anyone who has been driven away from God. God is not afraid of our sin; sin is afraid of God.

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