Called to Holiness

Jessica Bratt Carle

READ : 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

For this is the will of God, your sanctification. (v. 3)

A lot has changed in the last two thousand years, but Paul’s instruction about controlling our bodies is just as relevant as ever. Like the first century Thessalonians, we too dwell in a culture that revels in all sorts of unhealthy attitudes and practices when it comes to sexuality. Some Christian traditions have tried to set themselves apart by denigrating bodily matters and emphasizing spiritual health instead. But to cultivate contempt for our bodies is to reject good gifts from God. What’s crucial is that we embrace and use these gifts in ways that will honor God, ourselves, and those with whom we are in relationship.

N. T. Wright points out that prior to the advent of Christianity, God’s people needed to be purified and holy in order to approach God’s presence in the Jerusalem temple. Now that God’s presence dwells within believers themselves, their bodies ought to be places where holiness and honor reflect the Spirit’s presence. Holiness isn’t just an occasion, nor is it accomplished by performing certain rituals. It’s a way of life, empowered by the love and example of Christ. And when individuals live honorably with their bodies, the whole community is better equipped to live in health and harmony. Seeking holiness in our bodily conduct is part of how we respond to the gospel, which calls us to live not for self-gratification but for the well-being of all, as God intends.

PRAYER

Creator God, shape us to live in ways that reflect your goodness and holiness.