You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. – Leviticus 19:2
Remember Gatorade’s Be Like Mike campaign from the 90s? Maybe not because—although it feels like yesterday—it’s been a minute since it came out. Here’s the premise. A bunch of kids play basketball on the playground, occasionally letting their tongue jut out while they shoot (a trademark Jordan move). Footage of MJ being amazing reveals what’s in their heads while the accompanying song—a junkanoo Caribbean tune—taps into what’s in their hearts: “Sometimes I dream that he is me / You’ve got see that’s how I dream to be / I dream I move / I dream I groove / Like Mike.”
In the day, being like Mike was a worthy aspiration for any kid, regardless of age. Multiply that exponentially and you’ll get to sanctification, a quest for the holy that aspires to resemble our Maker as much as we can. “You shall be holy,” God tells Israel, “because I’m holy.” The problem with holiness, unfortunately, is very similar to the problem with the Gatorade ad. The bar is too high for ordinary humans to clear. Be holy like God is holy? Are you kidding? The absurdity of the idea has caused many to lower the standard, moving in more visible direction: dress, act, speak, and show we’re holy and we’ll be holy.
The good news is that we don’t have to waste time play-acting holiness. It’s not measured in the way we move or what we wear or how we talk. That’s a type of piety that’s meant to mislead, and it’s often the source of obnoxious self-righteousness. God tells us to be holy, rather than “just do it” (another Jordan campaign). And how does that work? God makes us holy. That’s sanctification in a nutshell. We can be holy because God wills it so.
Forget looking “holy”—the spiritual equivalent of taking jump shots with your tongue hanging out. Just be holy, knowing you’re made in the image of a holy God. Once you get the being part down, the behavior will follow. We’ll unpack this liberating take on holiness during Thursday’s discussion. We may not be able to be like Mike, but God is saying, “You are holy like me!” We meet at 7:30pm CST via Zoom.
Peace, with much love,