From Praying the Names of God Week Eleven, Day Four
The title "Holy One of Israel" emphasizes God's uniqueness, otherness, and mystery as well as his call to his people to become holy as he is. The Israelites were to be set apart for God, devoted to his service, and committed to honoring his character by reflecting it in all their relationships. In the New Testament Jesus was recognized as the Holy One of God by demons who were threatened by his power and purity. As believers, we are called to reflect the character of Christ, to be holy even as he is holy.
When you pray to the Holy One of Israel, you are praying to the God whose holiness not only encompasses his sepration from evil, but his power, knowledge, justice ,mercy, goodness, and love.
The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.'" (Leviticus 19:1-2).
PRAYING THE NAME
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Reflect On: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Praise God: Because his judgments are perfect.
Offer Thanks: That God has put you in touch with people who don't yet know him.
Confess: Any tendency to judge people outside the church.
Ask God: To help you trust his power to transform lives.
It's difficult to live in Michigan if you are a boat lover without a boat. A few years ago, I was able to rectify that problem by purchasing a boat that we keep at a nearby marina. That's when I learned that marinas are tight communities. When you're anchored a few feet away from a boat that's anchored a few feet away from another boat and so on, you get to know people.
Aside from nearly crashing into a few docks that first summer, we had a great time. But by the next summer, I was a little wary, unsure of how to relate to two gay women who had moved to our dock with their brand-new boat, particularly since I didn't want to have to explain their relationship to my preschoolers. I tried avoiding them but that didn't work because they were the friendliest and most helpful people on a dock of friendly people.
Before long, I realized that my attitude toward these two was off-kilter. I had been guilty of doing exactly what Paul warned the Corinthian church not to do—of attempting to separate myself from those outside the church whose behavior didn't match my standards. But Paul says to do that, you'd need to die—to exit the planet! And why on earth would I expect someone to act like Christ when they don't have a relationship with him?
As it sooner or later does, the obvious dawned on me—that holiness involves separating myself, not from a world of sinful people, but from the sinful attitudes and patterns so prevalent in my own life. My task was not to convince this couple of their mistake but simply to love them and to share my faith whenever the opportunity arose. I knew, too, that loving them didn't mean adopting an "anything goes" attitude. I could befriend them without caving in to a relativistic worldview.
It's so easy to equate holiness with a set of outward behaviors, to slip into a self-righteous, "holier than thou" attitude that alienates people from the gospel. But Jesus, the holiest person who ever lived, came not to condemn us—as though giving sin the last word in our lives—but to liberate us from the grip of sin.
As Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: "Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God." Perhaps in addition to accepting what Jesus sends us, we need also to accept who Jesus sends us.