Without holiness I can’t see God. That just won’t work

“14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord …”[1]

This will just be a short reflection on the profundity of this verse; I need to reflect on this verse, and contemplate the depth dimension present in it. I think sometimes when we read this verse we might read it as a purely futuristic thing; indeed, it has that element. But Christian theology, properly understood, knows that things such as holiness, God’s holiness, is indeed something/one that bobbygrowgrowbobbycan only be fully realized in consummate form — but it is just this reality that implicates the present. I believe that the eschatological reality, some call this glorification, when holiness will be required to stand in the presence of God, much like Moses did, and was hidden in the cleft of the Rock, is required in the present. Eschatology shapes the present reality we inhabit; eschatology is God come in Christ in the first and second advents, and in every parousia in-between (which happens on a daily basis as God in Christ by the Holy Spirit breaks into our lives moment from moment, even if we fail to recognize that). So, I along with Augustine, believe that without present and ongoing holiness in our lives, without our active participation in koinonia of God’s life that’s mediated to us through the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ, we cannot see God.

I want to know God, I see no other meaningful reason for living. I have nothing on this earth but Him (and all that He has given me freely in the Son, including my family, friends, loved ones, etc.). The Psalmist, king David captures this well:

ג Gimel

17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. 18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. 19 am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. 20 My soul breaks with longing For Your judgments at all times. 21 You rebuke the proud—the cursed, Who stray from Your commandments. 22 Remove from me reproach and contempt, For I have kept Your testimonies. 23 Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes. 24 Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.[2]

‘I am a stranger in the earth,’ and I need the holiness of God to surround me; I desire to actively walk out of His holiness as I walk in the step with the Spirit (Gal 5), in the works He has already prepared for me to do in Jesus Christ on a daily basis (Eph. 2:10). But I so often fail, and miserably so. I quickly look at the stormy waters surrounding me, I see the dust cloud of Pharaoh’s army pursuing, all I can see is the Red Sea before me; and I turn inward, I start looking at my navel instead of Jesus’ pierced navel. And in the midst of this loss of focus I go to my high places, where the groves seem green and above it all; but what I quickly realize is that these luscious high places are only filled with idols that I’ve created, idols that can’t breathe, or talk, or provide solace and hope (Ps. 115). I’m like Israel of old, the Israel that Christ became, that I (we) might become Him (II Cor. 5.21). I realize that if I think I will live this life without sin I make God a liar and His truth is not in me (I Jn. 1.8, 10). So yes, I do things that are not holy, I sin, and I do what I don’t want to do (Rom. 7); but it is here where the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ breaks in (I Cor. 1.18-25), he sprinkles my conscience with His blood that I might worship and serve Him, the living God (Heb. 9.14). I know without His gracious intervention into my life I will not see Him; I can’t live life that way, I won’t!

There is hope, even when I fail, He wins; He overcomes (I Jn. 4.4)! Even in my failure, in my sin, in my idolatry He is ever present. I want His holiness to dominate my life, for without it I cannot see Him! I don’t want His holiness to dominate my life in abstraction, but in concretion; and so as I cry out to be released from this body of death I look to Jesus (Rom. 7). I look to His body, and I know that by His stripes I am healed (Is. 53; I Pet. 2.24); because I am one spirit with Him (I Cor. 6.17), and because of His poverty I’ve been made rich (II Cor. 8.9), and now I am seated with Him in the heavenly places far above all of the crap of this world (Eph. 1.19-23), I have great and abiding hope! I choose to stand in the power of His might, and battle on! (Eph. 6.10ff; II Cor. 10.5ff). amen. 

 

[1] Hebrews 12.14

[2] Psalm 119.17-24

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2 comments

  1. Right on Bobby
    You speak my language. See also Sarah Coakley on salvation as infusion and integration (provisionally partial this side of life) in fidelity with yhwh/ ruach.
    Merge like a zip.
    ReinZ

    Liked by 1 person

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