Holiness is a term that has fallen out of favor in the last century or so, perhaps due to an association with legalism. But over the last few years, I have been noticing that most of the problems in my life and community are due to the lack of something that I can only call “holiness.”
Importantly, this holiness is not about an abstract set of rules or practices. It is about emptying ourselves of ideas and habits that prevent us from hearing and obeying what God wants. Hence the definition:
“Open to God”
This also ties in with the very earliest ideas of “holy” as something set apart from common use in order to be available for sacred usage.
Holiness is thus both a continuing practice of self-emptying and the momentary experience of being ready to do what God wants for us, here, now. Surprisingly, however, I have found that the two are not strongly correlated.
In fact, the more I grow in my disciplines, the more often I am aware of how many opportunities I miss to do what God wants. The difference is that I am failing at harder challenges due to more subtle sins. Thus there is no shame, only gratitude for the capabilities God is gently (if painfully) building in me over time.