Paul was more than just encouraging his fellow Believers here…he was beseeching and imploring them to take that decisive and dedicated step called sanctification. Why? When we first become a Christian we tend to hold on to parts of us that are comfortable, easy, or allow us to cope. But as we journey along with the Lord, He starts to demand we separate ourselves from those things. This process can be painful, but necessary for us to fully become God’s. Holiness or sanctification is being totally His…with nothing withheld…and Paul recognized that this was not only God’s Will but the very least thing we could do in view of the Lord’s sacrifice for us. (I Corinthians 6:20)
In this contentious and ever argumentative world, it’s difficult to seek peace in every situation. But the key here is found in a verse in Hebrews 12:14, ” Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy.” Being holy means we live in a spiritual atmosphere where grace and mercy abounds despite the hostile environment around us. It’s where we consider others before ourselves and strive to be a peacemaker not a rabble-rouser.
Our Christian journey isn’t perfect, for everyday we mess up. We say things we shouldn’t…or out of anger and frustration we act unkindly. Holiness isn’t something that we’re suddenly bestowed with when we say “Yes” to Jesus…it’s a process…a daily effort towards perfection. Philippians 1:6 tells us, “That being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This journey towards holiness – towards perfection, is God’s purpose for you. And as you walk in the Spirit, you’ll discover that His ultimate plan and purpose for you is that process towards holiness.
So what exactly is “the Way” and holiness mean to you? Is it being committed to the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind? Is it a way of life that exemplifies Godly actions and behaviors? The Way is a Highway…a road less traveled by most, but a life-long journey for the upright.
We are to live in harmony with all. Not with just those we like…not with those who only believe as we do. No, we are to live in peaceful co-existence with everyone. Jesus came preaching the Gospel of Peace, not that of elitism, isolation, or hatred. It’s a tough road though to love your neighbor as yourself…for many around us are unlovable. That’s why the second part of this verse is so important. We may not be able to change the unlovable around us, but we can change ourselves and how we interact with them. Sanctification or holiness is the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ Jesus everyday…of looking at all people – even the unlovable- through His eyes.
For many of us, when we read this verse, we see the almost impossible task of holiness. Well aware of God’s call to live a holy life, our path deviates far from His desire for us. But if the Holy Spirit is residing within, all is not lost to feelings of guilt and shame, for with the call also comes the ability to live that holy life. It happens by allowing the Holy Spirit to rule and reign within and not our flesh. Holiness is a way of life…an attitude and focus, not an unreachable goal.