Be Like God
I had a professor in college who had equipped himself with a substantial vocabulary. His lectures were peppered with words that were new to me. Apparently those words were unfamiliar to other classmates as well. One day in the middle of a lecture, one of my brighter classmates interrupted our professor who may as well have been speaking a foreign language, and said, “Dr. Weedman, you may have majored in history, but you surely must have minored in dictionary.”
Even when Dr. Weedman defined an unfamiliar word for us, he used other unfamiliar words to define unfamiliar words. My professor seemed to be particularly fond of the word pejorative. When defining an obscure word, he liked to approach the meaning of the word from every angle. It seemed to me that his favorite angle was from the pejorative perspective. I had never heard that word, pejorative before. But I learned that to use a word in the pejorative sense means to use it in a negative, derogatory, or uncomplimentary way. For instance, if you call someone a politician in the pejorative sense, you mean that they are scheming and out for personal gain. If you refer to someone as a hack, you are calling him a bad writer. There is a certain word that begins with the letter “b” which is a proper descriptive term for a female dog. But used in the pejorative sense, this “b” word is used as a synonym for a female jerk.
There is a plethora (overabundance) of words that when used in the pejorative sense, dishonor, offend, and hurt people. Take the word holy for example. In contemporary thinking, this word is closely related to the term nerd. The word holiness is not thought of as a virtue in our culture, but as a vice. To be thought of as holy by your peers is to be regarded as being a nerd, or being weird. The pursuit of holiness is not cool in our culture. Even in the church, holiness is something we are hesitant to pursue because the word is so often used in the pejorative sense. Nevertheless, holiness is something we are called to, which we see in 1 Peter 1:15-16: 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
We tend to ignore that directive. We’re comfortable to add God to our lives as long as we don’t have to change the way we live. The Old Testament prophets, along with John the Baptist and then Jesus, called for a radical change for those who would trust and obey God. “Repent” was an indispensable word to those who proclaimed the Word of God in truth. To repent means to change not only our thinking but our actions. When we are saved, we are saved from our worldly desires and practices and called to live a life of holiness.
So, what does it mean to live a life of holiness? To be holy is the opposite of being “common” or “profane.” God is holy in that He is utterly different and distinct from His creation. He is in a class all by Himself. His people must also be distinct, separate from the heathen attitudes and actions which characterized them as unbelievers. Holiness is a way of life that affects everything we do. Holiness is not merely conforming to a list of rules. To be holy is to be like God.
A couple of weeks ago we considered the question, “What kind of church do we want to be?” Then we thought about the larger question: “What kind of church does God want us to be? That is, what kind of people does God want us to be? The answer is clear. God wants us to be like Him. Which means God wants us to be holy. That is, God wants us to love what is good, and hate what is evil. Be holy. Be like God. Even if your peers think you’re weird.
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