It’s OK to be different. Actually, it’s more than OK; it’s a command stemming from a glorious reality. God has already set us apart (1Co 1:2) as His people and we are commanded to live like it.
The word “holy” means just that – to be set apart, distinct, different. And there is no higher privilege than to be set apart for God’s purposes and pleasure. But for some reason, we fight tooth and nail to be just like everyone else, obsessed with being popular rather than being pure. And we would far rather have our local churches described as relevant, affirming, loving or vibrant, than getting stuck with the old-fashioned label of being holy. Holiness belonged to our grandparents’ generation and Christian biographies gathering dust on our shelves. We may tend to associate holiness with outdated clothes, judgmental attitudes and permanent frowns. But we would be wrong. The world is blessed to have believers in Christ marked by holiness who are characterized by none of those things. And the world needs us to be holy, different, sanctified. They will never ask the “reason for the hope that is in [us]” if we don’t first “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts” (1Pe 3:15 NKJV). Simply put, lost souls need us to be like God, not them. Otherwise, they will perish. Let that sink in. It’s OK to be different.
Being holy doesn’t mean we need to go back in time, mimicking the past; it means going back to Scripture, and obeying what God says in the present. The word “holy” in its various forms is found over 700 times in God’s Word and it’s written large on the spine of our printed copies. There are dozens of passages calling us to specific holy actions and attitudes. If we profess to follow the Holy Bible, it’s about time we were holy ourselves. Being different is more than OK – it’s God’s expectation and command for His people.
Holiness is also part of the Great Commission. If we are obeying it at all, it may only be partially. We might be happy to preach the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, and we may be eager to baptize new converts in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but what about the rest? Jesus added, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20 NET). Obedience to God’s Word is what holiness looks like (see 1Pe 1:14-16), and we are commanded not only to be holy ourselves but to teach others to be holy by obeying Scripture.
Holiness is the subject of this special issue of Truth & Tidings. The articles (to name a few) contain helpful teaching on the holiness of God, our call and privilege to be holy, the joy that a holy life experiences, and our glorious destiny – to dwell eternally in the holy city, New Jerusalem. We’ll also learn that holiness is hard work and doesn’t simply happen without the cooperation of our will. But thankfully, with God’s commands come His enablings. We can live holy lives because we have received the Holy Spirit. Such a blessing makes us especially different. And that’s more than OK.