Book : The Pursuit of the Holy by Simon Ponsonby
Simon Ponsonby gives fresh perspective to God’s invitation to “be holy as I am holy”
Can a godless society be expected to become godly without seeing what godliness is? Are Christians today willing to live their lives in such a way that they reflect God’s holiness? Simon Ponsonby’s The Pursuit of the Holy: A Divine Invitation tells the story of a holy God seeking friends among the unholy and bringing life to those who, left to themselves, would miss out completely on the joy of His promises. Ponsonby begins by looking at God’s essential and unique holiness and what it means for us as sinful human beings.
When we learn that God is actually moving towards us and not away from us, the command to ‘be holy as I am holy’ becomes reachable.
First, we need to understand what it means to be holy. The Bible uses the word holy in context with other words such as cleanliness, purity, blamelessness, glory, righteousness, godliness, and trustworthiness. These words provide a starting point for Christ-followers to understand the invitation to reflect God’s holiness and the fullness of what it means in our relationship with God. Ponsonby states that holiness is a way of behaving that is determined by the being of God—a life that becomes like the God who possesses holiness.
Rather than unattainable perfection, Ponsonby encourages others to understand that our pursuit of holiness is a life-long transformation process that is not only desirable but is also an exciting opportunity and offer placed before us to go for it. Holiness is a supremely positive word that reflects God’s desire to restore His children into His likeness. Moses and Isaiah are two characters Ponsonby uses to provide vivid windows into God’s restoration process. Careful study and examination of these men and their encounters with God reveal many things about the divine characteristics of God’s holiness:
* God’s holiness doesn’t preclude His visitation to sinners.
* God’s holiness doesn’t negate His revelation to sinners.
* God’s holiness doesn’t eliminate His desire to communicate with and show compassion for sinners.
* God’s holiness won’t destroy us if we repent of our sinfulness.
* God is gracious, forgiving, and cleansing, removing sin in an instant.
* God will employ us in His service, despite past failure, if we will only say, “Here I am.”
God was separated from evil. God isn’t darkness. God is light. God doesn’t lie. God is truth. In these examples, we can see that God doesn’t mingle good with evil, but He is wholly and completely separated from impurity. So in this regard, holiness is to be pure and separate from evil.
For God, holiness simply means to be separate from evil. For He is the great Creator, and there’s no impurity in Him: to be separate and distinct from evil is enough for holiness. Yet for the Christian, it takes on a slightly different form: we are to derive our holiness from Christ’s holiness. And so in this way, holiness becomes a slightly different goal.
If Christ is our holiness, then we have but one goal: to devote our mind and body to God’s using, and to separate ourselves from the uncleanness that is in the world. Holiness is a singleness of purpose. Yet this is true only insofar as the purpose that we are channeled towards is holy: this can only come from Jesus Christ.
Ponsonby wants people to understand the grace and mercy of God’s invitation to holiness. He writes that once we understand this, we will no longer desire to live as we once lived, as sinners. Instead, we will desire to live like God. “God-likeness, conformity to His character, is a pilgrimage, a journey made together. We are to walk and work with one another as a family of God’s children,” Ponsonby states. This pilgrimage is not one of subservient creatures before their Creator, neither of soldiers before their commanding officer, but of sons and daughters and lovers of God.
To be holy is to be fully alive, fully human, and whole, as God intended.
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