To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…
1 Corinthians 1:2
Frederick Buechner, a minister and writer, tells the parable of Lord George, a debauched and wicked man, who falls in love with a wonderful girl. In order to win her love, he covers his bloated features with the mask of a saint. The girl is deceived and becomes his bride, and they live together happily until a woman from Lord George’s past turns up to expose him for the scoundrel he is. She challenges him to take off the mask. Sadly, Lord George takes it off, and behold, beneath the saint’s mask is the face of the saint he has become, by wearing it in love.
That parable says a lot about how we grow in holiness. We grow in holiness by doing obedient things. It’s like becoming a parent. When a newborn arrives to first-time parents, they don’t necessarily feel like parents. But then they do parenting things. They change diapers, set up doctor visits, and sit up through the night with a sick child. They act like parents. And it isn’t long before parenting soaks down to the core of their identity.
Holiness is like that. Paul tells us in this passage that in Jesus Christ we are given the identity of a saint. We are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Our holiness is first of all God’s gift. But then holiness also becomes a goal. We are “called to be holy.” Are you responding to that call? Live out who you are in Christ.
Lord, we are a people set apart for your service. Help us to grow in holiness—not so that we become proud of our goodness but so that we may be humble in your service. Amen.
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