Recently TIME Magazine asked the question “Does it still matter?” referring to the U.S. Constitution. How could the founding fathers ever have considered contemporary issues like immigration, national debt, naturalization, sexting, modern warfare? With such dynamic issues tied to a completely different kind of world than the early fathers experienced, are the principles they framed really meaningful as a guide to social structures and governance?
Some people have come to the same conclusion about holiness. They say it was conceived by religious leaders attempting to codify behavior in ways that are now outdated and irrelevant. So when the very word “holiness” surfaces, it conjures up old battles waged by out-of-date people who are simply not hip and completely out of touch with the real world.
Well, respectfully I’d like to say, “Baloney!” Folks who so easily dismiss holiness as an irrelevant antique idea have completely lost their reference point and become brain-washed by the institutional imposition on a theme that is truly as old as God, and just as relevant. You see, holiness is not a code of ethics; it’s not a list of behaviors; it’s not a set of propositions; it’s not a set of rules. Those things will all become irrelevant and crusty because they are dependent upon the issues around them to give them meaning. When the issues change, they no longer have value.
Rather, holiness is simply and complexly the nature and character of God being reflected in the life of someone who is willing to let that happen. Personal choice – to surrender to the influence of God’s nature shining through them. It has nothing to do with the proficiency of a person observing rules. That minimizes the true source and nature of holiness.
Admittedly, the dynamic changes in American culture beg the question of relevancy of the Constitution. But the power of the Constitution is not tied to the issues around it. It is tied to deeper principles that transcend those issues. Likewise, life is vastly different now than it was in the 1950’s; or in the 1830’s; or in the Old Testament days of Leviticus. To a much greater degree, the power of holiness is not tied to the culture or issues of the day. It is tied to the nature and character of God who is always relevant and always in touch.