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Christ's Blueprint for his Church: Holiness
by Tom Goodman
April 1, 2010

If you're a church leader, it's important to review Christ's vision for his church.  Here's how the Apostle's Creed summarizes it....

I believe in the one holy church
The communion of saints

We are to be "one," "holy," and a "communion."  In LeaderLines, we're taking three weeks to reflect on each of those three words.

Last week we looked at the oneness Christ expects.  This week, let's look at the holiness our Lord expects from his people.

What do you think of when you hear the word "holy?"  For some, it's just another word for "sanctimonious," and conjures up images like Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character from re-runs of Saturday Night Live.  In Carvey's skits, the Church Lady would draw her lips into a disapproving pucker and sarcastically say, "Well, isn't that special?" as she began her rant against behavior she disliked.

For others, the word "holy" brings to mind not so much sanctimonious people as it does impractical people, like gurus on lonely mountaintops or hermits in isolated desert lodges who withdraw from the realities of daily life the rest of us face.

Both of these ideas are exaggerations.  A person who truly pursues holiness is interested in righteousness, but not in smug self-righteousness.  A person who really wants to be holy is different, but not indifferent to the world.

We believers have been brought into God's family, and we are expected to live by his standards now.  Our natural impulses don't have the last word.  Our ego's satisfaction is no longer our goal.  The opinions of our peers and the prejudices of our culture don't govern us.  We can rise above any dysfunctional patterns that we learned in our childhood home.  Our lives are to be different... set apart... holy.

And the Bible says that when God set us apart, he set us apart together!  In other words, we have to work together in order for the community of believers to pursue holiness.  We give each other encouraging challenges to keep going.  We intervene with loving confrontation when necessary.  In the event a believer stumbles and falls morally, we should work to restore him or her.

I love Ephesians 3:10, which lets us in on God's reason for the church:  "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 3:10).  I love that verse because it tells me that God's wisdom is on display through my mutual interaction with other believers -- in short, "through the church."  Cosmic unseen authorities gain insight into the ways of God by looking at the body of common, ordinary people who follow Jesus.  Astonishing!

Deciding to become a Christ-follower means joining other believers to fulfill the vision of holiness in our life together.  As church leaders, this is a vision worth putting in front of disciples.  Next week we'll look at the vision of community that Christ set out for our life together.

(This week's edition of LeaderLines is adapted from Chapter 14 of my book, The Anchor Course: Exploring Christianity Together.  Learn more at www.AnchorCourse.org.)


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