It was one of those light-bulb moments, a paradigm shift, a reordering of my mind map when I first read the words Willard wrote in The Divine Conspiracy. The idea or concept he discusses is what many Christians confuse as the end game of attempting to emulate God: managing our sin. I found this to resonate so deeply with how I had pursued my Christian faith, focusing on what to avoid and resist, and reducing much of my thought and prayer life to focus on my own [and others’] sinful behaviors. As I began to explore this idea more, Willard helped me see holiness as more expansive than sin management.
Holiness goes beyond “thou shall nots” and also embraces a life of affirming and doing new and good things. More importantly, holiness in this more comprehensive view is relational rather than merely ethical. Holiness is a result of drawing near to the One who is holy. As we draw near and abide with our holy God, we then begin to reflect the mission, priorities, character, and behaviors that are associated with him.
Considering holiness as what we exhale when breathing from a deepening relationship with God, how does this change our thinking about our piety? When I answer that question, it changes my thinking from what I need to do to become holy to prioritizing time to draw near and be with God.
Holy God, maker of all, be near.
Lord Jesus, forgiver and friend, hear our prayer.
Holy Spirit, light and life, dwell in us.
Three in one, you are welcome; come be our guest. Amen
[from Dawn to Dark, p. 40]