When I think of holiness, I think of a mean Puritan holding a Bible and pointing the finger at me.
I asked my sons, 15-year-old Alex and 19-year-old Chris what picture they saw in their mind when I said the word ‘holiness.’ Their images of how holiness looks and acts is dramatically different from my flawed perception.
“When I think of someone who is holy, I think of someone who is friendly, hopeful and laughs a lot. Someone who is free.” – Chris
“Holy means to be set apart to serve God. I think of someone who is serving God.” – Alex
Chris and Alex both grew up in a vibrant, healthy church. I had no Christian influence in my upbringing. And the perception of holiness shows the influence that we have all grown up under.
My caricature of holiness is based on movies, history and the spirit of the world. My son’s perception is from the people they see in church who love God. Our friends at church aren’t perfect people by any means, but they are for the most part consistent in their faithfulness.
The word “holy” first appears in Genesis 2:3: “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
God use the word ‘holy’ to define a moment where He blesses the work of His hands and rests from all of His work of creation. This is a wonderful moment where God takes a day off to admire the beauty of His handiwork. In the context of this first mention of ‘holy,’ God sets apart Himself for a day to enjoy His creation.
To be holy is to enjoy being set apart to God’s use only. Holiness isn’t deprivation from fun. Holiness is a release to the joy and rest from our own work to His presence. Now I can see how my children perceive holiness as freedom, joy and laughter. What does holiness look like to you?