While the Bible far surpasses any TV show or other commodity from our life here, its pages hold an invitation worthy of focus. This offer carries us farther than just moving up to the “east side.” Rather, it entails moving all the way up to the uttermost “north” -- the very Presence of God.
In 1 Peter 1:16-17, we read: “But, as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.’”(KJV) In addition to being an admonition or commandment expected of all believers, may I present another viewpoint? Have you ever read this passage as an invitation?
To understand this notion, we need to first explore the meaning of the word “holy.” In original Hebraic context, the word “holy” simply means something is “set apart for a special purpose, or set apart as special, sacred.” It makes the distinction between something that is common, perhaps even usual or familiar, and something that is special and treated likewise.
For instance, consider this example. I love to collect various types of glass figurines. I have many different kinds and sizes of these: some of nature, some of Christian icons or verses, some of antique replicas. But all are very special to me. As such, I keep these in a curio cabinet where they can be enjoyed at a glance but are protected from random or common usage. My family knows this curio cabinet is “off-limits” for them to explore, but they can enjoy its beauty from a distance as I do.
In some ways, the Hebrew concept of “holy” is similar to my treatment of these collectibles. It represents something treated above and beyond the “common.” Something that is designated for a particular purpose and held in esteem and regard for that, and only that. Something kept separate and free of other uses or potential hazards.
It’s easy for us to see God in this light, as He is the “Lord Most High” or “El Elyon.” We are well aware of His separateness, His holiness, His specialness. He dwells in unapproachable light, sits between the cherubim, and rules over all creation. He cannot be approached by mere mortals without a Mediator, who is Christ our Lord. He created all things for His pleasure, and has no rival. So, recognizing His holiness is clearly evident.
Yet, He reaches out to mere mortals and extends an “invitation” to us that Peter records, quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” In other words, the God who is set apart from all other beings, the God who created and owns all that exists, the God who rules in absolute sovereignty, still reaches through time and space to mankind on a tiny planet of Earth with His desire for relationship with us.
When we understand the driving force behind the entire plan of redemption recorded from Genesis through Revelation in the Bible as a sincere desire from the heart of a gracious Creator to have a loving and vibrant relationship with mankind, this verse takes on new meaning.
No longer do I see this as a hard-nosed command, an obligatory order, a demanded “do.” Rather, I now see it as an invitation from the God who desires relationship with me and invites me to join Him by entering His presence.
In order to enter His presence, holiness is demanded. His all-consuming fire will devour anything displeasing or unholy. What I hear Him saying here is, in essence, “If you want to enjoy a relationship with Me and enter My presence, you must become holy. I will not become unholy to fellowship with you, but I invite you to become holy and fellowship with Me.”
Therefore, His invitation carries a weight of responsibility on my part. To truly enter His presence and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him, I must be “set apart” for this special purpose. I must confess any sin, repent and receive His continual cleansing as I enter His presence through the blood of Jesus, my Mediator.
In 1 John 1:9, I am reminded that my responsibility is to confess any sins and I will be forgiven and restored to a place of holiness, able to accept my loving Father’s invitation and fellowship with Him in sweet communion.
This invitation has
Isn’t it a wonderful thought that the God of the Universe invites us to join Him, to spend time with Him, to enter His holy presence? When looked at in this light, this verse loses its hardline command connotation. Rather, at least for me, it encourages and motivates me to “move on up” and spend time with Him. I am grateful to be granted such a wonderful invitation. I choose to “move on up” far above the “east side” - all the way to the very presence of God. What about you?