Related to yesteday's post, I want to make the important point today, that, at its heart, holiness is communal.
With the coming of the Protestant Reformation, of which I am a part, I believe there were important gains and insights drawn from Scripture. At the same time there were loses in areas that eventually most in the Reformation left behind from their Roman Catholic heritage. One of those is the monastic orders. For all the negatives that can be said about them, there were good things, as well. And one of them is the aspect of community lived out by them.
There is a strong and overwhelming tendency to view holiness (i.e., in God's love in Christ, living in God's will, as those set apart from sin to righteousness, from self to God, in mission to the world) as primarily some individualistic, private reality and experience. People think of someone, maybe some great "saint" of the past, and say, "She was holy!" Then think of characteristics of that person, demonstrating her holiness. There is truth there. But the fact remains that holiness is never lived out in isolation. It is in the communion of God, and in the communion of God's people, and in mission to the world.
I love community. And dislike isolation, though we need some of that. It is good just to have fun with each other. But we also need to work at being intentional in other ways that help us in our journeys. And to see our journeys as converging in a real sense. Journeying together.
We're all dependent on God and on his revelation to us in Christ and from Scripture. Apart from this, we can never be holy. But we're also interdependent on each other. God does not see us merely as separate entities, as important and precious as that individual relationship with God is. But he also sees us as those in community. I have an obligation, in love, to my brother and sister. And my brother and sister have an obligation in love to me.
Scripture talks about us confessing our sins to God and to each other, as God's people. And holding each other accountable. All, in love. And seeing each other grow in holiness. Giving room to struggle, and admit difficulty and even defeat. So that one can become, in God, truly holy. Growing together into the family likeness of our Brother, and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
How have you seen community help you in becoming holy? Or what thoughts might you like to add here?