God's holy people4
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
- Ephesians 1:1
Have you ever looked in the mirror bright and early in the morning and said to yourself “Hey, look, that’s one of God’s holy people!” Neither have we.
We actually get a little nervous around people who stand too steadily in their saintliness. That slippery slope from self-assured saint to self-righteous hypocrite scares us. We prefer people whose halos hang a little crookedly.
To hear Paul address the church in Ephesus as “God’s holy people” can make us squirm. But he does it for a reason and in a context.
For Paul, holiness didn’t just (or even primarily) mean goodness or righteousness. God’s holy people weren’t necessarily better than or morally superior to all of the other people. In fact, Paul would know from painful experience how broken God’s holy people could be.
Holiness meant that you were set apart, dedicated, consecrated. From the very get-go in his letter Paul wanted his readers and hearers to remember that God singled them out and pulled them aside. This matters to Paul because he’s convinced that God has given each of us new power for reconciliation and new opportunities to love God and each other in the world. We have become (and are becoming) different people, a different kind of people. God called us out for a purpose.
And for Paul, this holiness wasn’t something that we stumbled across by accident or have come upon by virtue of our moral effort. Instead, we become God’s holy people only in and with and through Christ Jesus. The One who wholly dedicated his life to God is the only one who can make us holy.
Try praying a prayer like this today …
Jesus, would you make me holy today? Please show me where you’ve called me out and are giving me new opportunities to love you and the people around me.