I love the passage in the Good Book where we read that the angels in heaven never cease proclaiming “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and is and is to come.” The thunderous sound they make in declaring this praise in the heavens must be bone rattling.
So, what about vain repetition? As they ceaselessly repeat the proclamation, do the angels glare at their watches (or cell phone clocks) after every few hundred dozen refrains of this phrase as if they were wanting to know how close it was to quitting time or the end of their shift? After all, they are repeating the same phrase over and over again, hundreds of trillions of times (and more!)?
Over the eons have they begun shouting out this phrase in a monotone, uninterested way, checking out the latest angel fashion wear to their left and right, wishing they had a different assignment? Are they bored to tears, distracted by growling stomachs? Have their hearts and minds grown weary and unfocused? What do you think?
Mind Blowing and Heart Thumping
My view is that each and every time the angels cry “holy” it is in response to catching a glimpse of a new, thrilling, mind blowing and heart thumping facet of the holiness of God. And their response each time? Holy! Two reasons for me thinking this way:
1. Since God is infinite, it would be a stretch to think that we could exhaust our understanding of and appreciation for His holiness.
2. In His teaching on prayer, Jesus instructs His followers to avoid “vain repetition”: repeating things just to be heard and/or without meaning.
So what is “holy” anyway? When you think of God being “holy,” what does that mean to you. Go beyond theological dictionary definitions like “set apart” and try to write down ten of your own definitions of what you think “holy” means. When I first tried, I could only come up with about five. OK, no cheating, go ahead and try to think up a few definitions. Got ‘em? Good.
Here’s what I came up with: 1. So blazing/white hot that no impurity can exist in His character. 2. All consuming. 3. Unapproachable perfection. 4. Completely self-sacrificing to the benefit of others. 5. Having a laser-like focus on what is good and right and true.
Going through the disciplined attempt to articulate your thoughts about God’s holiness will help you WAKE UP your spiritual life in that you will have a clear picture in your mind of just Who it is that you want to get to know…and just Who it is that wants to get to be close to you!
After exhausting our thinking about definitions of “holy” as related to the Big Guy, let’s turn our thinking to application. So what…God is holy, what does that mean for me? Well, something we do not fully appreciate about the Big Guy is that, believe it or not, He tells His followers that they are holy. Did you catch that? If you count yourself as one who has given yourself totally to Him in thought, heart, word and deed, then you are holy. Yikes! You are you kidding me? I’m so blazing/white hot that no impurity can exist in my character? Yeah…right.
Well, the fact of the matter is: Yeah…right! Our problem as Big Guy followers is twofold: 1. We still live “in the body” and mess up every day. 2. Because we mess up each day we do not see and/or accept ourselves as holy. In my experience of some 35 years of following Jesus I have found that the more focused I am on my true identity as a holy person, the more “successful” I am in living consistently with that truth. The more focused I am on my messed-up self, the more I gravitate towards acting messed up.
My encouragement to you is to constantly consider the holiness of God, as the angels do, and to remember - throughout each day - that He has made YOU, his follower, holy. [You may want to do a search of “holy” at a site like www.biblegateway.org to see how the word “holy” is applied to His followers – or, if you want to comment and/or send me a note, I’ll be happy to share some references with you!]
Father, thank you for making me holy. Please help me to think, speak and act consistently with that truth. Amen.