The second sermon in my Summer of Love series is about holiness.
The church is called to be a holy people. As God is love, so God is holy, and for the same reason too. Holiness is loving God and others as God loves us. God is love because God is Triune, and God is holy because God is love.
Holiness is reconciling our walks. What I mean by this is that holiness moves us from walking our own way, to walking Christ’s way. Be holy as I am holy, says God. However, we do not learn to walk like Christ by simply changing our appearance. Holiness is not something we acquire by simply learning to conform to a Christian ideal. Holiness is transformational; it is the work of Christ in us that then produces outward results.
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His work, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:4-5a). God’s love in us is needed in order to keep God’s commandments. If we employ discipleship methods that simply have people conforming to a list of do’s and don’ts, teaching people how to walk, talk, and act like a Christian, then church, we have failed. Discipleship must include modeling and teaching how to love God and others, since that is the meaning of holiness. We can conform all we want, but the only change that matters is the one that begins by allowing the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts and minds. Holiness is the result of transformational change.
A discipleship that is focused on transformative, spiritual change is one that teaches us how to love the person down the street whose views make us cringe. We must learn to love others, and I’m referring to the same kind of love that is shared with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If we look at someone and only see their faults, their failings, or their deficiencies, then we do not love them. If we do not love them, then we are not keeping his commandments (Jn. 14:34-35; Mt. 22:34-40). If we want to be a holy people, we need to learn to love others as God loves us. If we want to walk as Jesus, then we need to walk in love.