As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16
It means to be sacred, set apart, held to a higher standard, put on a higher plane…to be different, to be thought of differently in a positive way. That’s basically God in a nutshell, isn’t it? When you compare God to us – His omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfection, steadfastness, kindness, wrath and love to our comparative lack of all these things – it becomes very clear very quickly that God is very much set apart and on a much higher plane than any of us. He IS the Higher Standard. No wonder He is worthy of our worship! He is the Most Sacred of all things sacred.
And Christians are commanded to be holy as He is holy.
That is the entire purpose behind being a Christian. No, I’m not talking about being saved, avoiding hell, and going to heaven. Those are the benefits of Christianity, but not the purpose of Christianity. If the Christian’s goal is nothing more than going to heaven, that Christian needs to change their priorities because they will find it very hard to obey God with that mindset sooner or later.
This is because every single command God gives Christians in Scripture is designed to make them be more like Him and less like the rest of the world. Take 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, for example. Look up that passage and you’ll see lots of commands, and every single one of them, when applied continually to the Christian’s life, will cause that saint to be different from everyone else and more like the God who created them.
Christians are commanded here to respect those who have authority over them in the Lord and esteem them very highly (vs. 12-13). Any Christian who consistently does that will stand out amid a culture that continually denigrates anyone in authority, whether they be in the home, church, workplace, or government.
Christians are then told to be at peace amongst themselves before being urged to admonish those who are lazy, encourage those who are faint at heart, help those who are weak, and be patient with everyone (vs. 13-14). Yet we’re surrounded by people who bicker amongst themselves and with total strangers on social media. Tell anyone they’re wrong for laziness or anything else and you’re immediately condemned for being judgmental. The faint at heart are looked down on for being weak rather than encouraged, and most are looking out for themselves and thus don’t even think to help those who are weaker than them. This increasing self-centeredness makes patience with anyone, much less everyone, nearly impossible to achieve. Thus, the one who continually lives up to these biblical edicts will stand out.
Christians are then told to avoid seeking revenge, but instead to always do good to everyone (v. 15). They are commanded to always rejoice, pray, and be grateful (vs. 16-18). Anyone who does this regularly will be quite different from the masses whose first inclination when wronged is to seek vengeance and who want to do good primarily to themselves and secondarily only to those who do good to them. Having a daily, intimate prayer life while always having joy and gratitude is rare in a society in which the majority feel entitled, find the glass is always half-empty, and are too busy to think of God.
The directive to not quench the Spirit nor despise prophecies while instead abstaining from every form of evil by testing everything and holding fast to what is good (vs. 19-22) basically means to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life by regularly reading the Spirit-inspired Scriptures (2 Peter 1:19-21), accurately interpreting them (2 Timothy 2:15), and obeying their guidance to do good and repent of evil. Yet most of our culture today rarely if ever even reads the Bible. The one who spends more time in the Scripture instead of in front of a TV or on the Internet is different indeed!
Christians must stand out from everyone else and be more like God. If you’re a Christian, is that the case with you?