Tension is what we came up with; balance is what we wanted. How does one practice holiness, and be holy at the same time? If we are a new Creation, how come the old still woos? A group of us are going through the first letter from Peter to Christians in all areas of the Roman Empire about the time Nero is getting worked up and ready to take down everything, including Christianity. Peter is encouraging these new believers, who have never met Christ, only heard of Him, or met some of His followers possibly. They had many of the same questions. How do we put all this into practice, while you are telling us that this is who we are, and are to be?
Peter starts with first things first, Christ’s death and resurrection, and their identity being chosen and loved with abundance of grace and peace overflowing to them from God. Peter winds his way back and forth through actions and character, but always taking these new believers back to the cross and the empty tomb. Be holy, and this is what that looks like, but don’t forget why you are to be holy, God’s deep sacrifice and example of holiness. We do not have to earn this, or work our way up, but are invited into His holiness, and choose to live a life that models it for all we come in contact with.
I have been thinking about how we are right now a New Creation and to be Holy, but at the same time working it all out, and not yet there. This morning I was reminded of a time my boys and I raised butterflies. They started as caterpillars, and eventually cocooned, when they came out they were no longer caterpillars, but definitely a new Creation, butterflies. One of the first things they must do is pump their wings to get the blood to flow to them, so they fill out. It takes time and is definitely a process.
I was thinking our walk is kind of like that. There are things that we learn of God’s holiness that take time and need to work out, and sometimes we get them wrong, or they take time to exercise, but eventually there will be strength and power in that area. If we do not practice and we just shame ourselves, or just chalk it up to that’s just not who we are, or we stop exercising what we know to be true, those wings will shrivel. We will still be a butterfly, but a grounded one, that will most likely become easy prey.
I want to soar with wings like eagles, but that takes time working those wings and practicing all that I learn. Thankfully God promises that He who began this good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). We can practice trusting Him in that, along with knowing that the Holy Spirit is there to teach, guide, empower, and comfort us as we learn how to lean in and live this life of holiness.