Interesting how a theme of Scripture, running like a thread of gold through Holy Writ, can also run through your life. At first glance the painting of a sanctuary, sitting by the shore of Lake Michigan, the placing of new psalters in our pew racks, a trip to Atlanta, and a three-day youth service project (most participants pictured to the left – I’ll leave it to you to distinguish the youth from the non-youth) could seem to be all unconnected. Yet these experiences of mine over the past month have reminded me of the beauty of holiness.
God’s holiness is certainly a Scriptural theme. It’s as basic as ABC and 1-2-3, featured prominently in the first three books of the Bible, from His casting the fallen couple out of Eden and guarding it with the angels’ flaming sword, to His declaration of holiness at Sinai, to His levitical call to Israel to be holy. This thread runs unbroken through the Bible and alongside though always far above man’s sinfulness, until the two ultimately converge violently at the cross. Our sinfulness Christ bears; His holiness becomes our garments. From the moment the sinner receives this divine exchange, he is then forever called by a name emphasizing his new identity – a saint, or a holy one. If the saint but follows the Lord, then whereas before everything he touched he polluted, he now begins to see the beauty of the Creator’s work wherever he travels.
Such has been my experience this month. Our sanctuary’s peeling plaster and dirty green-tinted paint have given away to beige and hues that highlight its architecture and creates a warm and lighter environment for worship. Yet the true transforming holiness was seeing an ex-prisoner, redeemed by Christ, wanting his painting work to “glorify God in this sanctuary.” Watching waves pound the shore of the lake brought to mind Psalm 93:4-5 and the power of His holiness, “More than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty….Holiness befits Your house.” Singing from the new psalters and seeing more of God’s Word come alive in His people is an experience of His sanctifying holiness. Being in Atlanta and watching a church planter lead an inner city Bible study to the downtrodden reminded me of how His holiness, as proclaimed in the gospel, separates His people from the world. Seeing nearly two dozen youth work both hard and cheerfully for three days serving our congregation and others brought to life Psalm 110, “our youth arrayed in holiness like morning dew shall be.”
In the midst of Jericho’s destruction, nothing good may have looked possible. Yet to those who knew to look, a scarlet cord tied to a window meant a prostitute and her family were being saved and cleansed from the rubble of sin. His holy hand is always at work, weaving beauty in the midst of this troubled world, if only we have eyes to see the thread.