Steve Dunne, pastor at Richmond Baptist Church, wrote this article for the secular media. We thought it might be something Baptist readers could clip out and give to a non-Christian friend!
What comes to mind when we read the word “holy”? Maybe like many reading this you have some childhood memories of boring church meetings with your parents. Maybe “holy” conjures up the self-righteous, miserable people who are going to ram God down your throat with the threat of eternal damnation if you don’t remember that week’s Bible verse.
Or maybe the thought of meeting a holy person seems a tad, how shall we say, “vapid”? Maybe you would prefer to meet the latest raunchy pop star than the Pope – Madonna instead of Mother Teresa.
Maybe for you “holiness” is a dirty word for other reasons. Maybe you have tried to live a cleaner lifestyle, tried to improve yourself, tried to eat better, laboured over nagging addictions, bemoaned your failing self esteem and inability to love. Maybe you have been there done that – to no avail.
Where do you turn to once you’ve tried every detox diet, joined and re-joined every gym, re-cycled every conceivable piece of human garbage (that’s rubbish too!) and yet still feel somehow unclean. Somehow we are not altogether with the programme. So the thought of being “holy” simply drives you to despair or Coronation Street or both.
Here is some good news. Jesus of Nazareth was the cleanest, purest, holiest man who ever lived. The Bible teaches Jesus was sinless. Jesus was not just nice, he was totally holy. He was also very happy. Jesus knew sorrow. Jesus attended parties and was the life and soul of the party. Sinners loved Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went large crowds followed him.
Sinners still love Jesus today. Since His resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth has inspired more books to be written, songs to be sung, devotion to be given, lives to be changed than any other character in human history. Businesses around the world close on the celebration to remember His birthday. We even set our numbering of the years around his.
His name, not Buddha or Muhammad or Beyonce, is the name more people call to around the world and in return experience and come into relationship with the holy presence of the God of the Bible. His name is also more often on the lips of more people as they blaspheme on a daily basis, more than any other name. Not even Barak, Bin Laden and Saddam combined top the Jesus blaspheming charts.
Even as you read this article, “Jesus” is being spoken and sung in countless different languages in devotion to God our Father. All around the world people are being freed from addictive substances, sins are being cleaned away, marriages are being restored, bodies are being healed all by simply calling on his holy name.
According to the Bible, Jesus is the only one who “makes men holy.” And holy we need to be made. There are no people born holy. You may have pleasant parents and not watch porn (much!) but you still come up not holy in the sight of God. Like it or lump it – Catholic, Protestant or Agnostic, you are unclean. That is because God is very holy, pristinely clean so to speak.
The Scriptures teach, as a sinner by nature, I am “evil continually” (Genesis 6:5); “impure” (Proverbs 20:9); “full of evil and madness” (Ecclesiasted 9:3), “wicked” and “estranged” (Psalm 58:3); going my “own way” (Isaiah 53:6); a stiff neck resister of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51); hostile to God (Romans 8:7); darkened; alienated; marked by ignorance and hardness of heart; “callous” and given up to perversion, greed, and impurity of every sort (Ephesians 4:17-19); among the “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18); “dead” (Colossians 2:13); “defiled and unbelieving” (Titus 1:15); under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19); “foolish, disobedient, led astray” and among the “slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
Yet in spite of all this, Jesus remains holy. His death and resurrection 2000 years ago can make a person holy today. Long-standing, ingrained, yucky sins can be forgiven and forgotten by calling out to the name “Jesus.”
So where have all the holy people gone? Maybe its time to join their ranks. Jump in – the water is clean!
“So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11, NLT).