June 20, 2012

Names of God: Holy One of Israel

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of singing in the praise band at church, and we led one of my favorite songs:

We raise up holy hands, to praise the Holy One,
Who was and is and is to come.

But now I’m sitting here, reflecting on the lyrics, and I’m realizing something.

I don’t think I really “get” holiness.

Sure, I know that holiness means being unique, set apart from sin. But those are just words. What does it look like? And are my hands really holy? Worthy to be raised to praise the Holy One?

Uh, no.

But in His mercy, God gave us Jesus, who bridged the gap for us so that God could tolerate us and our sin.

And here’s where the meaning of holiness gets really foggy to me. Because I’ve been told over and over again that God is my friend. He’s my Daddy. He’s my Counselor and my Shepherd. All of these roles are ones in which He’s close to me. We’re tight. I tell Him everything. He cares. About me.

And I get comfortable with that. I pal around with God and talk smack to Him and pat Him on the back. If God had a cell phone, I’d text Him. A lot.

That’s all well and good, except for one major thing.

I forget His holiness.

I forget that He is Creator of the universe. King. Lord. So high above me I shouldn’t even be able to see Him.

So beautiful, so magnificent, I’d be blinded if I looked upon His face.

So powerful that He has the ability to speak light into the world with one breath.

This is my friend, yes. He’s my Daddy, yes. My Counselor, my Shepherd.

But before He was any of that, He was the Holy One of Israel.

Matchless.

Perfect.

Holy.

Your Turn: What are your thoughts on the holiness of God? How can we strike a balance between relationship and reverence?

*Photo by Arvind Balaraman

22 comments:

  1. I think we strike a balance by the amount of time we spend with Him. I know when I can be playful and then I know at times when I'm to hush and let His Holiness fill the room in a reverent way, the kind that slowly sinks me to me knees, stretches out my arms in surrender, and sends tears down my cheeks.

    I crack up that you would text God. I say the same things! LOL

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    1. That's why we get along so well, Jess! ;)

      But seriously, I love what you said about knowing God. When we know Him, we know how to be around Him.

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  2. Loved your candor, LindsAy! Talking smack and texting God...doesn't get any more real than that.

    Respecting God for who He is and what He's done for me helps create a bridge between a relationship and reverence. He wants us to have a trusting relationship with Him, but we need to respect boundaries too.

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    1. Haha, who doesn't talk smack to God?

      Love that. Boundaries. So important.

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  3. I think about my relationship with my own parents as a child. I could crawl up into my mom's lap and lay my head on her shoulder and talk or cry or ask questions, but then there were times when we played together or time when we laughed. There were times when I was angry and disobedient and sent to my room. There were times for everything (which reminds me of the scriptures in Ecclesiastes). But always, I honored and respected my parents. Even when I was angry, I never once dishonored them. I believe God gives us a healthy family model to understand our relationship with Him better - to just skim the surface of understanding. He wants us to be in a real relationship with him, which includes all of these times together. But always, we are to revere and respect his holiness.

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    1. What a great analogy, Gabe! Being close but always honoring. Love it!

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  4. You've got me thinking on this one. As much as I believe there is a lofty, high, revered sense of this word, I wonder if holiness isn't also found in the humble. In those willing to give when it hurts, love when it's hard, and sacrifice for God's glory.

    Thinking...thinking...
    ~ Wendy

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    1. I love that thought, Wendy. Holiness = humility.

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  5. So true. I think this is why it's so important to step out of the busyness of our lives and spend time to meditate on Him (which some days I'm better at than others). Only when we stop, can we really see how big, how majestic, and how powerful God really is.

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    1. Oh yes, Julie! If we don't take time to reflect, it's so easy to just go to God with what we want, when we want it. And I'm not always great at it either, but I can tell a difference between days I do it and days I don't.

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  6. I love this!! I love the whole post, and especially this: If God had a cell phone, I’d text Him. A lot.

    Hehehe...

    But seriously, I so hear you. This may be a stretch, but as I think about the balance between familiarity/friendship/relationship and reverence/holiness...I sort of think of my dad. As I've grown older, I've become friends with my dad. I love that! I can talk to him like I would talk to a friend. And yet, there's still this aura of respect I have for him...I look up to him so much...because he's...Dad. And maybe that's a bit of how it is with God...we talk to him like a friend, we bare our hearts and emotions, yeah, we talk smack...but at the same time, there's a reverent respect or fear there...because he's...God.

    This one's a thinker, Linds. Love it!

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    1. Such a good analogy, Mel! Friends, but still reverent.

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  7. Like you, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I think because we only see a glimpse, a reflection of that holiness here in this broken, unholy world. It's almost impossible to imagine something (even if that something is God) that is completely holy.

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    1. Hmmm, so true about the glimpse. But when we do see it, it's so strinkingly different that we know it has to be from Him.

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  8. Great question! I'm not sure we can get the balance "right" but God can. That's why we have Jesus. I think he's our balance...then again, the Bible called Moses the friend of God, so I'm not sure.
    It's definitely awe-inspiring though.

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    1. Really like what you said here. He gives us strength so that anything is possible.

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  9. I like how Dr. RC SProul put it to his students once: He asked how many of them believed in God. All raised their hands. Then he asked them how many of them believed in Yaweh, the God of the Bible who sends men, women, and children to hell for their sins against Him? The God who COMMANDS that we be holy as He is holy? The God who demands we worship no other gods before Him?

    As you can imagine, only a few hands remained raised in that classroom.

    And that's because so many of us don't truly know the God we worship. He is holy. We are not. He is not like us. He is separated from us.

    When He smiles upon us, it is not because of any thing we did...but because He sees Jesus in us.


    Great post and great reminder!!

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    1. "When He smiles upon us, it is not because of any thing we did...but because He sees Jesus in us."

      I never thought about it like that. Thanks for that!

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  10. Sometimes we forget...we become casual and laid back. But it is His holiness, that super stuff that makes us in awe - that is what makes us feel the real joy in our hearts.

    Great reminder.

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    1. So true. The blinding light of his goodness against the backdrop of darkness in this world...it certainly makes us sit up and think, doesn't it?

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  11. Lindsay, I resonate so clearly with what you've shared here. As a fellow worship leader, I struggle at times to sing words with conviction when I may not understand or grasp them fully - or even be living a lifestyle that doesn't honestly reflect them. (Ouch!) Sin cannot survive in the presence of God's holiness. They are incongruant. That's where Jesus, our bridge, makes it possible to have a relationship with Him. I am condemned by God's holiness, but redeemed through the blood of Christ. That's as theological as I get. :) Thanks for this great food for thought today.

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    1. I love thinking about Jesus as a bridge. Thanks for stopping by, Donna!

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