Be Holy: Read a Book Excerpt

Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
Be Holy
Find Identity, Find Belonging, Find Purpose

By Brian Christopher Coulter

Book Excerpt

First Peter states, "Be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" What do you think it means to be holy? We find it again in Ephesians when we read that God "chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy." And in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible we read, "Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy."

The command to "be holy" echoes throughout scripture and should be understood as a challenge to live our lives differently. Over and over we read passages in which God calls us to repent or turn from what we know and reorient our lives in a new direction. God calls us to be holy—to orient our lives in a new direction—to be set apart for, with, and from.

This is where it gets fascinating to me. People seem to get confused about why we are called to be holy. We are not called to be holy for God. God does not need us to accomplish God's purpose in this world. God is God. God can do anything with or without us. God does not benefit from us choosing to be holy … we do. We are the ones who benefit from being holy.

Living a "normal" life today can lead us to frustration, disappointment, and empty overindulgence. Differentiating yourself from the "normal" crowd is often a very good thing. We are not invited to be holy because God needs worker drones; God invites us to be holy because it is a better way for us to experience and live life. When we make the choice to be holy, we find a richer, fuller existence. When we make that choice, we find satisfaction for cravings we did not even know we had. When we choose to live a holy life, we are choosing to live the way we were created to live. …

I am convinced that there is a better way to live life.

Too many people go through life without actually living it. They constantly live with a yearning for more of the wrong things. They welcome the status quo. They never challenge or question why things are the way they are. They consent to their feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and insignificance. They strive to be normal.

Why?

Why do we do this?

Why do we spend so much time trying to blend in when we were designed to stand out?

Why do we strive for ordinary when we are created extraordinary?

My worldview is a Christian worldview. I try to focus and filter my experience of life through the lens of Jesus. The way I organize and understand this world is profoundly shaped though what I encounter in scripture. This makes the Bible more than just a story. It makes the Bible my story.

But the Bible is not just mine. Scripture tells us our story—the story of God and God's people. God created us. God loves us. God approaches us. God lives for us. God dies for us. God is raised for us.

And it is in our story that we find our calling: be holy. This calling is introduced early in our story, emphasized throughout the poetry and the wisdom and prophecies of the Hebrew people, revealed in its fullest form in the person of Jesus, and reiterated in the letters of the early church. Over and over again we read these two little words.

Be holy—two little words that make up our calling.

Be holy—two little words that echo throughout our story.

Be holy—two little words that reveal another way to live life.

Be holy—two little words that reveal a better way to live life.

Be holy.