Sacredness in the Profane

One of my great hang ups with the church is the idea of holiness. People use that word all the time with so many different meanings that it is starting to sound like the ramblings of a senile 19th century Baptist preacher. So, what the Hell is holiness anyway? It has been presented so many different ways it is hard to tell. For some people holiness is not cussing or drinking. To some of the guys I went to seminary with, it was avoiding “impure thoughts.” This thought is particularly amusing given that Pew research has shown that 65 percent of evangelical ministers admit to problems with pornography. Apparently the sin of gluttony is not part of the holiness equation either. When is the last time you ever heard a sermon on gluttony in the Baptist church? You won’t because the overweight pastor is not going to compromise how much fried chicken he can consume at the fellowship potluck after the service. Holiness has been twisted and perverted to control, manipulate, and perhaps worst of all to alienate people causing them to feel shame and inadequacy to stand in the presence of God. Holiness is terribly misunderstood and the consequences of this misunderstanding is the erosion of the church and the stagnation of people’s spiritual development. People are tired of the hell fire and brimstone sermons. They are tired of hearing about what a person should be doing to “look the part.” The shift of holiness towards the externals of an individual has created spiritual narcissism and high level hypocrisy. So, what does holiness really mean. Well, very simply it means set apart. In the book of Genesis, the creation account states that God took some dirt (adamah in Hebrew) and breathed into it a life giving and animating force (ruach) in Hebrew.) In this action God took dirt and set it apart from the rest by giving it spirit. God took the dirt and made it holy. The dirt symbolizes the unevolved part of us, while the breath or spirit symbolizes what makes us beautiful and set apart. To be holy is to make a choice to honor the breath and spirit and to gradually let go of the dirt. To honor the piece of God that has been placed in all of us is what allows for spiritual growth. This allows us to connect with others in meaningful ways. It allows us to connect with ourselves and with God. It shows us and reminds us that spirituality is not an external activity, but that the spark of The soul lives within all of us. To be set apart is to recognize this and to come to the realization that holiness and a connection with God begins within us and is not based in externals. We are all made of dirt that was shaped into something fearfully and wonderfully created. The very life giving, animating, and creative force of God lives within all of us. As we shift towards this understanding, our minds and hearts will draw near to things that matter and the intangibles found in a life of hypocrisy and lack of meaning will disappear. We will be authentic, connected, and empowered. We will embrace the sacredness within the profane pile of dirt that our body is. We will be set apart.-

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