How did I come to ponder this question – you ask? Well the answer is “the Bachelor”.
Like I’m sure many of you on Monday nights, if your spouse is flipping through channels and lands on the Bachelor – you pull out a commentary on Leviticus and start reading right? Okay…so just me. But that’s what happened.
But as I read this commentary the author made a brilliant and profound argument for how our view of holiness should change. He started to note how holiness got integrated with power and fear, not through a careful reading of Leviticus but through our cultural baggage. Holiness is not simply not breaking certain taboos, it is a call to life with God. He writes this: Holiness is the work of creation, the giving of life…Holiness is a calling to be with God where God is and where God goes.
And this got me thinking, what does holiness look like? We often hear words like separation, like sacred, and sometimes-even connotations like reverent fear – or just plain fear and wrath. The question I’ve been thinking about is, while those themes are surely there in the Bible, what is the predominant picture of holiness in the Bible? What does it look like in real life? Is this untouchable, transcendent, otherness, that if crossed unintentionally or incorrectly leads to death (which is a view many hold of God)? Or is it something else? How do we best understand it?
After pondering this question for a while the really simple answer took hold of me in a new way. Clearly the answer is Jesus – right? I mean the answer is always Jesus…but what if we really radically accepted that? Holiness must theologically look, live, and act like Jesus. Holiness must enter into lives for transformation. Holiness must not entail this false duality of sacred and secular but instead, must infuse holiness into the world. Holiness must look like Jesus, if Jesus is God and God is holy.
Who knew something productive could actually come out of The Bachelor.
So I’m still really letting this sink in and see how it might outwork deeper into my life. But I think it’s a really valuable question to wrestle with: What does holiness look like?
And however you answer the question of what holiness looks like – I think it should look a lot like Jesus.