We are called to sanctification—to be set apart. However, that does not mean we are to not be a part of the body of Christ nor forsake the commission to love others as well as share the gospel. Consider today’s excerpt from Kent Brower in his book Holiness in the Gospels on this specific aspect of our sanctification process.
Jesus returns the conception of holiness to its source in the very being of God. The result is that holiness is no longer to be misconstrued as separation from neighbor but is to be expressed as love of neighbor. For most of the other holiness movements of the day, separation had become an end in itself because that was thought to be the way to achieve and maintain the purity required by the holy God. But Jesus shows that when separateness becomes the prime identity marker of the people, their attempt to preserve holiness becomes a barrier to engaging with God in His mission in the world.
For Jesus, holiness is contagious, outgoing, embracing, and joyous. It transforms and brings reconciliation. It extends compassion to the marginalized so that they are brought into the circle of those who do the will of God. This holiness is a dynamic power emanating from the source of holiness, the Holy One. It is stronger than any acquired impurity. Time and again the compassion of Jesus for those who are the marginalized overrides the legitimate concern for purity.
This does not mean that God’s holy people no longer are concerned with holy living. On the contrary. Holy living is the fruit of the new covenant relationship being established by Christ—new God/human and human/human relationships. In that new relationship, disciples are called to be perfect like our Father. Jesus’ ethical teaching is an intensification of holiness, but only in the direction of God’s original intention. The purity of God’s holy people is really an inner matter that issues in ethical living. Discipleship is expressed in full obedience to the Father’s will, that greater righteousness, which is the only true indication of discipleship. But this has nothing to do with a moral, legal standard and everything to do with reflecting the compassionate, merciful being of the Heavenly Father. Legalism doesn’t work because it looks only at external performance targets (129-130).
Father God, thank You for sanctifying us through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You that we are considered Christ’s brothers and sisters. May we not fall into the trap of legalism, but live holy, contagious, joyous lives that reflect a true covenant relationship with You.