The Holiness of God

How many times have you been in a church service where the pastor or staff person said from the stage “let’s give it up for God” or some similar exhortation? It’s as though every time someone takes the stage they feel compelled to ask for a “clap offering” from the congregation before they can speak – “put your hands together for God.” Is that really necessary?

I’m concerned that today’s “modern” church has lost an awareness of the holiness of God the Father, to the point where He is reduced to nothing greater than a star athlete or guest celebrity. We trivialize His presence and holiness when we so loosely address Him in our prayers. I’ve heard ministers address God as “man” in their prayers, as though they were talking to their buddy during a ballgame. Really?

Ephesians 4:24 instructs us “to clothe yourselves with the new man, which was created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and true holiness.”

Growing up in the Baptist church where we sang from the hymnbook every Sunday, there was an awareness that when we entered the sanctuary we were entering into a holy place where God was to be revered and honored. Now I’m not suggesting we return to a certain legalism that dictates when we sit, when we stand, when we pray, how we dress (though that needs to be addressed in another post), etc. But today’s seeker-sensitive churches could learn something profound from the more traditional church models where God’s holiness is not an after-thought or so casual.

What does it mean to be “holy?” Let’s define the word: 1. blessed. Holy, sacred, consecrated, hallowed imply possession of a sanctity that is the object of religious veneration. Holy refers to the divine, that which has its sanctity directly from God or is connected with Him: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Something that is sacred, while sometimes accepted as entitled to religious veneration, may have its sanctity from human authority: a sacred oath. Something that is consecrated is specially or formally dedicated to some religious use: a life consecrated to service. Something that is hallowed has been made holy by being worshiped: a hallowed shrine. 4. spiritual.

I get it that our churches are trying to be relatable to the common man. But that common man who does not know God personally needs to be introduced to the Creator of the Universe in a way that will allow him to both honor and revere Most Holy God but also feel comfortable praying to Him in his own everyday language. Can we have it both ways? Of course, but let’s not go too far in one direction that we lose awareness of God’s holiness.

© Gary Stripling 2011

3 thoughts on “The Holiness of God

  1. Well stated, sir. I have seen churches that fall at both ends of the continuum, and I agree that striking a healthy balance between God’s accessibility and his holiness is what we should all be aiming for. I think the same could be also said for music, whereas I’ve seen church bands that consistently delve so far into the secular realm that I had to stop and ask myself who the congregation was really worshiping. At the end of the day, I think we’d all agree that it’s important to appeal to seekers and lead them into an encounter with God. But if we get too hung up on the means and not the end, then we’ve clearly allowed the pendulum to swing too far in one direction. A wise man once said, “the river of truth flows between the banks of two extremes.”

    I enjoyed reading your article….thanks for sharing.

    -Russ

  2. I totally disagree with your summation of how we should approach God due to His Holiness. I think each person has his own experience in that approach. I do agree that God is holy and is to be respected but that respect comes from a believers heart. I was not brought up in the Baptist church, we didn’t use hymnals to sing ir certain ceremonies. I was brought up Pentecostal, our services were more fiery and our songs more free. I believe whether Baptist or Pentecostal those are both worship experiences familiar with the people coming up in those congregations yet still serving a Holy God. I cannot say “because you do it differently” you are not treating God as holy. In my EXPERIENCE I address God as my friend, I talk to Him as my friend. I’ve done so as a child. I tell Him everything. I clap my hands to Him in my service to give Him praise. Jesus told His disciples “you are my friends.” God was Moses’ Friend, was Abraham’s friend, yet it never diminished that He was holy. He said come boldly before the throne of grace. You have not because you ask not, in other words be straight up. Give Him real talk. People need to understand that all those acts and big words and angelic actions don’t move God, it’s your heart and faith that does. There are people who know nothing about church lingo but have given their lives to Jesus and speak to Him with their hearts and dance and rejoice and address Him with their hearts. At the end of the day God is still holy. I prefer to address Him as my friend, my buddy, my companion but i know who He is and He knows me

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