[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life. 2 Timothy 1:9
“Listicles” are everywhere. You know what I mean: “18 Ways to Know If Your Cat Is a Presbyterian” or “13 Foods That Will Make You Clairvoyant.” The theory is that we just don’t have enough time to read regular paragraphs, but we do have time to read lists.
So in the spirit of listicality (not a word, but totally should be), this is the first of a four-part series on 10 ways to live a holy life. After all, God Himself said:
“Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
Great – but what did He mean?
Being holy means that, now that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I’m supposed to be different from the average non-Christian guy on the street – different in the things I do, the things I say, and the things I think about. For me, holiness means that I don’t cuss, or go to R-rated movies, or miss church to stay home and paint my bathroom.
But notice in the verse above that God doesn’t say “Be holy just like me.” (Because that’s just crazy talk.) We can never match the standards of God’s own holiness, but we can be holy within the parameters of our humanity. And God totally gets that; He created us, so He doesn’t have any delusion that we can be anything more than He made us to be.
The list below (and in the following days) will most likely make some folks squirmy, because we don’t want someone telling us that something we’re doing isn’t pleasing to God. But if you’re a Christian, the squirminess is good, because that means you still want what God wants for you.
In the end, though, it’s not what anyone’s list says; as Christians the litmus test for each of these items is whether or not Jesus would do it. (You can already see where this is going.)
So here we go…
The Holiness Listicle (1-3)
1. Go to Church
You get this, right? You need to be there in person every week (unless you have the plague). Church isn’t always perfect – and neither are the people who go there. If they were, they wouldn’t need to be there. But as the author of Hebrews says:
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25)
(Apparently 1st century Christians stayed home to paint their bathrooms on Sunday, too.)
I’m fairly certain that there is at least one church within driving distance with music you like and/or a preacher who isn’t afraid to preach from the Bible (or both). And if one or the other of those isn’t available, there are a million worship tunes on iTunes and YouTube and at least that many good online sermons.
So comb your hair and grab your Bible (or electronic Bible display type device thingy) and go be a part of God’s plan for the Church (capital “C”). And if you have to suffer through uninspiring music or preaching, smile and thank the Lord you still have the freedom to be there. Then go home and log in and listen to the good stuff.
Would Jesus go to church?
2. Read the Good Book (and other good books)
I get it – the Bible can seem daunting to read. Even with a version written in contemporary language, it’s hard to know where to start – all those difficult to pronounce names, and sacrifices, and kings, and Jewish customs (if you’re not Jewish) in the Old Testament and the not-for-the-novice book of Revelation in the New. Definitely daunting.
But it’s all good:
All Scripture is God-breathed… (2 Timothy 3:16)
…it’s just finding a course of study that fits your learning style and where you are in your Christian walk. God planned for us to be able to read and understand His Word, but I think He also meant for us to work at it a little and mull over it and talk about what we’ve read with others. (Thus the “Bible Study” was born.)
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start with the book of John. John loved Jesus – and Jesus loved John (as John loves to remind us). He was quite the eloquent communicator for a back-water fisherman. When you’re finished, read it again.
- Read Paul’s letters to the churches he planted; Romans, Corinthians, Galatians – pretty much any New Testament book that ends in “ans.” He is truly the author of much of our Christian theology.
- Remember all the worship tunes and sermons online? There are about that many Bible reading plans online. Your favorite search engine can point you to a few.
- There are great Bible apps for phones and tablets that include built-in reading plans (Bible Gateway and The Bible are two). Plus, these apps are all free.
There are also lots of good books by Christian writers out there. You’ll find daily devotional books, Bible commentaries, books devoted to unpacking the life of a Bible character or theme, Christian fiction, and books with themes like this blog about living the Christian life with grace and style. These make great supplements to your Bible reading.
Ask a friend from church (see #1 above) who has lots of books to loan you something. Nothing pleases us book collectors more than to wax eloquent on the books in our library. Just borrow a book someone suggests with the understanding that if you don’t enjoy it after giving it your best shot, you’ll return it unread. Be honest. (More on that in Part 2…)
Wouldst Jesus read the Bible and, verily verily, “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis? Behold, I say unto thee – He would.
Just like church going and Bible reading, praying should be a given for a Christian.
Praying isn’t hard – just talk to God like the friend that He is. There are no magic words to say and He doesn’t care about your grammar. Sometimes praying is as much about hearing yourself articulate your thoughts as it is about God hearing them. (Kind of like therapy with the greatest therapist in the universe, but without the fake plants and shelves full of books by Freud and Jung.)
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)
Living life as a Christian can be amazingly awesome – but it can also be incredibly hard. Mostly, it’s somewhere in between. Talking to God about it at each of those stages can make that life come alive. You can tell Him anything: “I’m sorry,” “Thank you,” “I don’t know what I was thinking,” “Help me know what to do,” “I can’t do this without you – I’m not even sure I can do it with you,” “Today – just grace for today…” Absolutely anything.
Paul says to:
Pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
You can do it in the shower, in the car, during that boring meeting, sitting on the porch having coffee, mowing the yard. David said that God…
…does not slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4).
The lines of communication are always open to talk to someone who will listen.
Did Jesus pray? Three words: The. Lord’s. Prayer.
Not too bad so far, huh?
So far. Stay tuned for Part 2…