Holiness . . . Father’s Wholeness
The Lionel Train! A fond memory of my childhood with Dad on the living room floor as we enjoyed the electric train together. Dad attached the oval track to a sheet of plywood. With the speed-adjusting lever on the transformer, we accelerated the train as it approached the curve. It often made the bend; sometimes it derailed. After watching the train make its rounds for a time on the flat track, Dad needed a little excitement at the next level. He would prop up one end of the plywood. The next round as he accelerated the speed as the train moved down the grade, it then would ‘fail to negotiate’ the curve and derail. We would have our chuckle and put those tough little cars back on the track for the next round. Life for a young boy was what it was supposed to be—on the floor with Dad and the train!
I was among those fortunate to have an earthly father who cared for his family. His care included expressions of love, fun times, guidance, and, yes, discipline as needed. In my formative years I knew him to be hard-working and disciplined, seeking to give his best for the Lord he loved and for his family close to his heart. As a bi-vocational pastor with constant demands on his time, I saw him as striving to give attention to the things that were important, juggling priorities for a measure of balance. Knowing his heart as he lived it out, gave me an understanding of who he was. And something about his warm but profound respect for God and His Word instilled in my young heart a deep regard and love for our heavenly Father.
The holy Scriptures give me a sense of the Father heart of God.
I gain additional perspective from the glories and wonders of nature and from the whispers and nudges of the faithful Holy Spirit. In His loving kindness and tender mercies, Father has allowed us to understand at least some of who He really is.
I understand that there are far too many families who have not had the privilege of a good earthly father. That is a tragedy – so difficult; my heart reaches out to them. I must say I am grateful for a God-fearing, family-loving father, and no doubt I relate more easily than some to a heavenly Father who Scripture reveals to be deeply concerned for our wholeness and well-being.
The Father’s Shalom Call to All His Family
In the Scriptures, our Father issues to the human family His call to holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Pet. 1:16). Some may ask: You are equating the Maker’s call to holiness with a call to wholeness? I invite you to consider this idea.
First, however, let’s think about . . .
The Word ‘Holiness’ . . . Concepts It Suggests
Holiness is a word with different connotations for different people, based on varied background experiences.
Some people have a negative connotation, or a highly legalistic idea, of the word ‘holiness’. To some it suggests a set, perhaps a fairly long list, of rigid rules; some even say that ‘holiness is rules’—the do’s and the don’ts, mostly the don’ts. To some it suggests a concept of God that, if thinking in human images (which God, of course, is not), might look like the proverbial great grandfather with a long white beard, yet still with sharp, scrutinizing eyes that are ready to snap forth judgment on the least deviation from a long list of rigid rules. To some holiness may suggest a kind of ‘other worldliness’, a being so heavenly minded that one can’t quite get their feet on the earth. To some the word holiness might suggest a license to a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. To some the word may call up thoughts of a certain religious tradition with a negative association because of experiences with adherents to that tradition.
For other people, the concept of holiness brings positive thoughts.
There are those who sense the idea of the nature of One who is incredibly greater – pure, loving, and peaceable. Another angle of that idea is that of Anchor—that is, One who is the originator, the sustainer, the life-giver, the source of truth and wholeness—Anchor. There are persons for whom this word suggests freedom—freedom from evil, from corruption, from the moral disease that drags the human psyche and human relationships. The freedom idea includes the belief that this Creator has a power, a grace that is infinitely greater than all evil, all moral corruption, all sin, and ultimately over death itself! For some, it represents purity and peace—a journey of wholeness, of shalom. For still others it calls forth worship at the highest and deepest levels of the human spirit, thus it represents profoundness and beauty.
The Psalmist seemed to have this latter connotation as he expressed “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps 96:9, KJV). Isaiah, while filled with awe at the vision of God’s holiness, associated it also with the glory he saw in the earth–“the whole earth . . . full of his glory.” Holiness in some scriptural instances is associated with peace, as “Pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). The Apostle writing to the Thessalonian believers wrote of “the God of peace” as the One to sanctify, to make them holy (see 1 Thess. 5:23-24). May we understand this as the God of shalom desiring to sanctify believers so that they may experience the shalom He has provided?
From our Father’s loving heart comes His call to holy wholeness.
There is more to ponder. We’ll pick it up the next post.
We shall gain our calling’s prize;
After God we all shall rise,
Filled with joy and love and peace,
Perfected in holiness.
~ Charles Wesley
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