“And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness;”
What images are conjured up in the imaginations of people at that sacred word of holiness? Monks segreatated from society? Nuns bound to a life of celibacy? Catholic priests with long robes or popes with jewel studded mitrates upon their head? Images of the virtuous Madonna with a babe at her breast?
Holiness is a hotly debated issue among the religious. Some say to live holy is impossible, contradicting the word of God which tells us that without holiness, no man will see the Lord. [Hebrews 12:14]
Yet many inwardly recoil at the thought of being holy themselves for we have come to accept the human perception of holiness as the way of God. “Set Mother Mary in a picture frame and burn candles in honor of her fidelity, but leave me alone to live my life as a normal human being.”
The famous King David echos through the corridors of time, “O worship the LORD in the BEAUTY of holiness.“ We blink our eyes in a blank stare-for his words fall on hearts void of understanding. Why would this ruddy young warrior who slayed Goliath and cut of his head, bought his first wife with 100 foreskins from the philistines, was crowned the second King of Israel, adored by the multitude, sung from the lips of hopeful virgins- why would he display such a passionate love for the beauty of holiness?
I wonder what scenes passed through David’s imagination while worshiping the Lord, as a young lad out in pastures, amidst hundreds of sheep, when he sung about the beauty of holiness. King David lived thousands of years before the day of Catholicism, Mother Mary and other insipid displays of that sacred word of holiness that we see in our world today.
Zacharias prophesied at the birth of his son, John the baptist, that Christ would usher in the day where God’s people would once again be set free to serve God in holiness and true righteousness. [Luke 1:75]
To be holy is to be like God. To be a Christian is to be holy. But what does that mean? We read the word of God and search and ponder and wonder about that perfection of heart, and we see Christ. . . The Lord Jesus Christ. Have we left him as a babe in a manger? or a sacrifice on a cross? Or have we pulled back the curtains of our own human thinking and let the glorious beauty of his holiness penetrate our heart?
Pull back the curtains, and see him walking among his disciples, from city to city, teaching about God, training his disciples how to live, love and work for God. He ate with them, slept and worked among them. And his disciple yearned to be holy- to them, holiness was an exalted position walking in long robes and being called of men Rabbi, Rabbi! And Christ tells them, do not any of you be called master amongst yourselves, but if you would be great, serve one another. But still longing for more they must know, and so they ask, “LORD, tell us, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
A silence falls amongst them. The moment of truth has come. They hold their breath. Will Christ recognize the leadership qualities in them? Will he point to one of them as an example of perfect exaltation? Jesus looks around about him. How shall he bend the minds of these earth-bound, fleshly creatures to the heavenly heights of exaltation? Where on earth will he find a lesson that might help them understand the very nature of God? What earthly source could acquaint their darkened hearts with the true beauty of God’s holiness?
And then, just beyond them his eyes meet with the unwavering eyes a small child-windows to the very face of God. Jesus calls to him and the child comes running with great eagerness. Jesus picks him up in his arms and carries him to his disciples and gently sets him down in the midst of them.
The disciples look on, amazed. A child? And Jesus says to them, “Here is a truth that I am going to tell you; unless you change and become as little children, you will not even enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself, like this little child, that is who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.“ And Jesus draws the child up again in his arms and continues, “And whoever receives a little child such as this, receives me. But whoever would cause even one of these little children that believe in me to sin, it would be better for that man to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. . . Take heed, that you do not despise even one of these little children that believe in me; For their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in Heaven!“
The eyes of a child are like windows to the holiness of God. Would we but put away all our preconceptions of holiness and find a very young child, even a babe and gaze upon its frail and untainted countenance; We would just begin to see the true beauty of holiness. And who of us who have held a little baby in our arms have not been moved with a desire to shield that beautiful innocence form the ugly ravages of sin?
You see, true holiness is not in a man or a woman who hold a certain position in a church. Its not in long dresses, certain hairdos or don’ts. But the true beauty of God’s holiness is found in;
“whatsoever things that are true, whatsoever things that are honest. . .
whatsoever things that are just. . .
whatsoever things that are pure. . .
whatsoever things that are a good report. . .
If there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy. . .”
True holiness is the absence of sin, darkness and everything hateful and ugly. The beauty of true holiness can only come to us from Christ- to those who would humble themselves as a little child- when he calls, they come running; True holiness comes when our sins are washed away in the blood of Christ, and we become as little children-Gods little children; True holiness is BEAUTIFUL!