If you are like me, you don’t spend excessive amounts of time thinking about holiness … but in our continuing Blogs in this Advent Season about God recreating us into the image of Christ [see past two Blogs], along with being recreating in knowledge and true righteousness … we are also to be recreated in holiness. Add to that the fact that Peter writes: “… as he who called you is holy, you also must be holy in all your conduct” (I Peter 1:15); and another writer puts it this way: “Strive for … holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

These say that we have a clearer understanding of the image of God that walked among us in Jesus of Nazareth because of these descriptions of the image of God—but then it gets more serious, because these passages say that Jesus Christ is literally be reproduced in us in these same attributes of the image of God.

Yet, holiness remains an illusive word for most of us … even sometimes used pejoratively, or contemptuously, as when someone accuses another of thinking he is “holier than thou.” But that is just a ruse. We know from scripture that God calls out a holy people, so we need to get serious in understanding something of its flavor. Eugene Peterson paraphrases it as: God “accurately reproduces his character in us.” That has all kinds of implications. It has to do with our lives being in harmony, or “in synch” with who God is (that would include his passion for his lost and broken humanity!). It would include the reality that “through us [God in Christ] spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (II Corinthians 2:14).

When people observe our lives and our authenticity and our character, they ought to catch the sense of the wonder and love and grace of God. It is to be manifest in our daily walk. Let me attempt an example from my own experience. In my home church in Florida there were two very much loved elders, who were models of wonderful Christian discipleship: my dad (who was a mechanical engineer) and Mr. Reidhead (who was a salesman of some sort). Mr. Reidhead came after I had long-since left home, but I learned that he had a very prominent preacher-son, Paris Reidhead, who was pastor of a church just a couple of blocks off of Times Square in New York.

So one Sunday evening several of us decided to go hear Paris Reidhead, and so arrived a bit late at the church, and were ushered down front after the service had started. It was an edifying evening, but after the service Paris Reidhead approached me and said: “You have got to be Virgil Henderson’s son. When you walked in I sensed that just by your demeanor and presence. Is that true?” I was astounded. How had he seen my father in me? But somehow it communicated.

If Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase is anywhere close to accurate, then just as Paris Reidhead saw my father in me, so all those with whom we associate, and those who get close to us, should see the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ accurately reproduced in us. That’s the image of God into which we are to be recreated—to be incarnated–and that’s beautiful!

That should give us something to ponder in this Advent Season. Got it?


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About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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