If someone were to ask me what term best describes the ultimate aim of Christian spiritual formation, I am most inclined to say, Holiness. The truth is that before I began my graduate studies, and focus so much of my study time in theology, I shied away from the subject because of past misconceptions and painful events growing up in a legalistic and dogmatic Pentecostal church. I often feel as though I have this love hate relationship with the term and what it has meant to me in the past. It may sound funny, but even now I feel as though my relationship with the term has been that of a good girl falling for the bad guy, because for most of my Christian formation, to me, holiness was the bad guy I just couldn’t stay away from.
I learn all the wrong ways to view holiness, and subscribed to the same judgmental and critical way I had been taught, even passing that on to others. I have since felt much shame and sadness when I think back and realized how wrong my views were, and how much I was lacking. Holiness is beautiful! I know this and believe it, but it was not until I faced my own wrong ideas and opened myself to God’s revelation. It was not until I understood his real desire to transform me-because he loves me just as I am, and not because he is forcing me to be something else-that I was able to accept the significance and beauty of being separated for God.
In the past, whenever I read the verse; “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1: 16), I would feel a sense of uneasiness creep over me. How can I be Holy? There are so many things I have to change, give up, and modify, etc. I never felt adequate to be Christ-like, in many ways I still don’t (it is a process). But I have learned to see myself in a different light. I have allowed the Holy Spirit to convict me and lead me in my Christian formation, rather than allowing people to chastise me for my imperfections, Judge me for my past, or current choices, and I’ve become more in tune with what the word says, rather than what others think it says.
I wonder what your experience has been regarding holiness…Care to share your thoughts with me?