As God is holy, He calls us to be holy too.
Lately I have been thinking a great deal about this and what exactly it means. Of all the attributes of God, His holiness is the only one that gets repeated like it does. Maybe that's to signify to us that all the attributes of God, which are revealed to us in scripture and through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, are to be seen in light of His holiness.
The holiness of God first sets Him apart from everything else. Who else is there, or what else is there, that is like God? The angels certainly are not, as they are created. Creation is not, though creation is an extension of who God is. And of ourselves we are not, though we are made in His image but also part of creation. In this, I believe God must be understood that He is distinct, separate, above all other things and beings. Our ideas of Him, our thoughts of Him, don't even begin to come close to Who He is. The only way we can hope to know Him is through His own Self-revelation.
And yet we do know God through how He has revealed Himself. We see in creation that God created through the spoken Word. The Gospel of John informs us that the Word made flesh (logos in Greek, "spoken word" as opposed to "written word") is Jesus. So Jesus was not only present at the creation, but was the catalyst for creation when we read to beginning of John's gospel.
We also see the Holy Spirit hovering above the waters and bringing order. It is the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, that would give adam, humanity created in the image of God, the breath of life, making adam a living being. At the time of creation God reveals Himself in relationship. He also reveals that He has a relationship with what He has created, and a special, set apart, holy relationship with humanity.
The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, all work as one in mutual, unadulterated love for each other. It is a completely equal unity partnership that they created. When humanity was made in God's image, both man and woman were called to be partners with God, to have dominion over creation, and to be God's representative to the rest of creation and to each other. This is a relationship that was exclusively established between God and humanity. You might say it was a holy, set apart, relationship. And yet it was clear, we as bearers of God's image, were created to relate to each other and the rest of creation.
One of the thoughts that goes along with this I've had lately is related to the kind of world God created. Sometimes we wonder how it is that God came to create this world. Why create a world which He knew would be corrupted by sin, and that would give rise to all manner of evil? Why not create a world where His creation, even the creation that bears His image, would be perfectly obedient to Him, and never even have the chance to fall into sin?
I don't believe scripture ever directly answers this question, though it's a question that can be heard in various forms from various people. But looking at the various attributes of God, and knowing how He has revealed Himself to be throughout scripture and in Jesus, I believe an answer can be ascertained.
There are many who say that God is sovereign and has complete freedom to do whatever He sees fit. To them that's what complete sovereignty means. In this same vein they'll say that God creates people to glorify Him through election which, to them, equals salvation. For the rest of humanity He is glorified in their destruction, whether by decree or by simply not electing them (I'm not entirely sure what the difference is because the result is the same).
Whether God CAN act this way, and create and rule over a world this way, is I believe the wrong question to ask. If God can speak everything into existence I don't believe His power is really in question. But the right question to ask is WOULD He create such a world where parts of His creation, even those that bear His image, are destroyed for His glory?
When we turn to scripture and read in Malachi 3:6, God says of Himself "I do not change." It's interesting to me that He doesn't say of Himself "I cannot change", but "I do not change." This is a choice made by God to keep in line with His nature, His character.
God declared His creation to be "good. when He created all there is. Jesus told the rich young ruler that nobody is good except God. What God created and said was good was an extension of His own character. I believe God created a world that was, in some regard, a reflection of Himself, and therefore did not create a world where the possibility of creating some to only be destroyed for His glory existed.
When we see that God exists in relationship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and He created us to be in relationship with Him, as well as relationship with each other, we see, I believe, the truest essence of holiness. It is a set apart relationship with mutual love and trust is the foundation. It doesn't allow room for anything to undermine or eat away at that foundation.
Jesus Himself, in the Lord's Model Prayer, prayed "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." The reality of heaven is holiness and the center of that is God. In order to show what holiness should look like "on earth as it is in heaven" we must be in relationship with God and let that shape our relationship with each other.
This post was written by Pastor Ryan Cole. You can find his blog post here: http://pastorchristophercole.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-character-of-god-and-what-it-means.html