"If one of you says to [one in need], 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?" (James 2:16, NIV)
Holiness and active participation in meeting the needs of others have always gone hand in hand. In the Old Testament, God called His people to be a source of healing and light to the nations: not just in doctrinal purity, but in service to those who were in need.
In the Levitical law, for instance, God’s people are given the following command: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:22).
In the New Testament, Jesus is the embodiment of this holy work: healing the sick, giving food to the hungry, giving to the poor and downtrodden, and sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God to those who normally received very little good news at all.
God’s gift of holiness – the gift of deeply surrendered intimacy with God – has never been about personal piety alone.
It has always had the purpose of proclaiming both through our words and our deeds the deep healing and transformation that comes with this new Kingdom of God.
These holy deeds are to be a reflection of deep transformation into Christlikeness that is defining the heart of the believer who seeks to walk as closely to Christ as possible. The main targets of this kind of “hands and feet” holiness are the poor, the foreign, the hungry, and the oppressed.
When we begin individually and as the Church collectively to demonstrate these kinds of actions, we are being holy. We are reflecting the holy transformation God is doing in our lives, individually and corporately.
This week, I wonder how many ways God may be calling us to be transformed and to demonstrate this transformation, especially on behalf of those who are ill, who are foreign to us, who are hungry, who are homeless, and who feel that they are forgotten. May the Spirit of God lead us toward holiness, not just as an inward transformation, but as an outward display of the sacred work of God in our lives and in our churches.
Prayer for the week:
Lord, open our eyes that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.
Lord, open our ears that we may hear the cries of the hungry, the cold, the frightened, the oppressed.
Lord, open our hearts that we may love each other as you love us.
Renew in us your Spirit. Lord, free us and make us one. Amen. (Mother Teresa)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.