Words have not been invented to describe the intensity of God’s holiness, but I will give it my best try.
The holiest, most wonderful, most pure thing you could ever imagine pales in comparison to Him. He’s infinitely more holy, more wonderful, more pure.
Even as holy as you think He is, He more holy than that.
He is the very definition of holiness.
It’s not that we have the idea of holiness and use the word to describe Him. It is that He is holiness itself, and we use his characteristics to describe holiness. We have no knowledge of holiness apart from Him. We have no understanding of holiness apart from Him. The very definition of holiness is derived from what we know about Him. Apart from Him there is no holiness.
He is holiness.
We don’t fully grasp holiness, because we can’t fully grasp who He is.
Our brains are simply too small for such understanding, too finite to grasp the infinite God.
He knows us intimately and one day we will know Him as intimately as He knows us, but for now we grasp at straws trying to find words to describe Him, trying to formulate thoughts that can encapsulate Him.
And we fall short every time.
It is not that God is unknowable. Those of us who are His know Him. It is that we are unable to fully understand Him.
The chasm between how holy He is and how fallen we are is so great there aren’t numbers big enough to describe it.
The greatest and best achievements of all of mankind in all of time combined is nothing compared to His greatness and His goodness.
This God, who is so great that legions of angels are at His beck and call, that He can speak worlds into existences, and breathe into dust and create an eternal soul, that God, that God is the one I serve, that God is the one who calls me loved.
This God of indescribable holiness and incomprehensible power loves me.
And He loves you.
This is normally where people stop. They say, “Don’t you want God’s love in your heart?” and they lead someone in a ritualistic prayer.
But God’s love and His example through Christ’s sacrifice calls us to so much more that what is commonly taught today.
So much more than uttered words and church attendance.
So much more than just acceptance of His existence and sacrifice.
We are called to sacrificially live and love as Christ did.
We deserve nothing, and He gave all.
He calls us to understand God’s nature, His love, His sacrifice, and walk in the steps of that profound selflessness.
If you’re not willing to do that, you’re not really His follower.
His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. This is His voice in the commands of scripture.
God calls us to love when others are unkind.
To respond softly when others are harsh.
To love when the person on the receiving end is not lovable.
To give when it’s hard.
To do what is impossible in our sinfulness but possible with His love and power living in us.
This seems all fine and good in the generic topic, but get into the nitty gritty and start applying this to specific situations and people –even many people who say they’re serious Christians– start objecting.
Loving sacrificially when it’s underserved could mean staying with an unfaithful spouse.
Loving sacrificially means answering an angry child with calm, polite and gracious words even if they yell at you.
Loving sacrificially means answering kindly when a neighbor accuses falsely.
Loving sacrificially means not reviling when under persecution.
Loving specifically means giving up your right to be angry when you’re mistreated, lied about, persecuted.
Remember how Christ responded?
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
1 Peter 2:23
The psychology enthusiasts will cry “enabling!”
The ways of God don’t even usually make sense to those of us who live Him. We just choose to walk in faith.
Here’s a few examples of the intensity of God’s love.
“Their [Israel’s] heart was not steadfast toward him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.”
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:19-25
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,a who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,c being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
No matter how selflessly and unconditionally we love, we’re not going to out-love God.
It is always something we have to strive for, because our sinful nature is there calling us back to our own self-interest.
You owe a debt of love to God and that debt is payable to your fellow mankind —first to those in the church and then to those outside who need to know about Jesus and see Him lived in someone’s life.
When someone looks at you, do they see God’s unconditional love and grace shining through you?
Are you a walking example of His love and grace?
Those around us should be able to see a difference in us, that difference should be the root of love placed in our hearts by Christ. That love is the root from which many other godly characteristics flow.
If you’re not growing in Christ’s love, it’s either because you’re not saved or you’re not choosing growth. Spiritual growth isn’t automatic like physical growth. We must choose to grow.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.
2 Peter 3:18
Bask in the awe of the love that the all-powerful, all-knowing God has for you.
And turn around and give that love to others.
That’s what our faith is truly all about.