Seeing Holiness, Seeking Peace [Part Two] Seeing in Jerusalem

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

It came to me while I was preparing for the day that this day, Palm Sunday, is the perfect time to talk about seeing holiness. The passage from Luke (which is one of the lectionary passages) says,

As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:36- 40)

The people along the way saw Jesus, and say holiness. The disciples had seen Jesus many times, but were starting to see him in a different way; not just as their teacher but as a man touched by God. The Pharisees could not see the holiness of Jesus the Messiah, and so did not see what was right before their eyes. The book of Matthew tells us,

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:8-11)

One might ask, what did they see? What did they see in this “prophet” that warranted such a welcome?

In the coming week, Holy Week, many sights may appear before our eyes, but will we see them? Will we see the holiness that is Christ?

May you gentle reader see all that our God wishes to show you, and may you see the peace that our Lord will bring into the world. Selah!

Seeing Holiness, Seeking Peace

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

We have, since the beginning of the year, focused on the many layered issues of peace and shalom. In these eighty-six days we have spoken directly about peace and shalom, living peacefully, and the issues that arise when considering peaceful living and living a Christian life. This verse from Hebrews injects a new thought, an issue that while significant to peace can stand independent from peace; holiness.

I believe, and this may be contrary to the traditional Anabaptist perspective, that one can be holy without necessarily being peace-oriented. Yesterday I talked about Jeanette Rankin. Her standing against the house of representatives on two separate occasions was an remarkable testimony to holding true to one’s conscience and convictions. It was not a “pure” stance, in that she voted for some measures that contributed to the war effort, but hers was a testimony to wanting to see other options than war. I honor that testimony be saying that she has fulfilled the spirit of verse 14. And if I honor her, than I must also honor other people who, while not advocating peace, have stood for justice and caring.

There is that type of soldier and those who support military efforts who do so not because they so desire to carry weapons that hurt, but because in their world view certain people must be threatened with force in order for them to treat others with justice and caring. Just because someone does not chose peace over other options does not mean they are without holiness. Holiness can stand apart from peace, and for many people it does. And we, meaning those who are “peace-niks” should not withhold our hand of friendship and Christian brotherhood.

But what I suspect is that living a life that honors and strives for holiness will lead to a life that values peace over other options. It may not and not necessarily would, but I suspect it might. There is something about striving for holiness as exemplified by Christ that moves one to lay down one’s weapons; that results in the turning one’s cheek to the strike; and that calls forth the sacrificing of one’s life for another. Holiness does not demand it, but rather works into the sinews and bones such that the heart, the mind, and the body turns towards peace as flowers turn towards the sun and the rain.

Verse fourteen rightly says that without holiness we will never see the Lord. Not because the Lord is not see-able, but because if we seek holiness we are most likely to seek the Lord. The two are eternally and divinely intertwined. May you gentle reader seek the holiness that is our Lord, and in holiness may you seek peace. Selah!