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  • John Bryant

1 Peter 1:14-16: Can the Cross Makes Us Holy Again

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


What is God’s holiness like? I suspect it like His Mercy. Holiness seems like His sovereign No to Sin and his stubborn refusal to give us up, Sinners that we are. If Holiness is what makes God strange, then Mercy seems like the strangest thing He does, and the strangest thing He is.


When we think we are doing fine, His Mercy is a casting down and a kick in the teeth. When we think our life is over, His Mercy is a Future and an embrace.


And how can we be Holy unless God is Holy first, unless His holiness makes us Holy, unless His Holiness makes ours?


What is the Holiness that makes us Holy?


I know that by His Cross, God has spoken a Word that makes us Holy. That Cross, that Mercy, that Holy Word, is not information, it is the Power to make something like you and me Holy.


In the opening to morning prayer, there is the option to say this, “I [The Lord] dwell in the high and lofty places and also with the one who has a lowly and contrite heart.”


What is the Holiest thing we can be? The Holiest thing God can be is Mercy. On His end, Mercy, on ours, what? I suspect it is humility. And what is our Humility but our smallness? And our need of Him?


What would it mean to say the Holiest thing we can be is limited and vulnerable, humble and contrite? To be humble is to be as limited and vulnerable as child, and as trusting and invulnerable as a child cared for by His God?


And if we are not be conformed by the passions of our former ignorance, then we are to be conformed by what?

Is it that our former ignorance disfigures, His Cross transfigures?


What does it mean, but that through all the things that can happen, all the trauma, all the betrayals, all the lies, in it all, we will be most shaped by Christ’s death? Through it all we will be most shaped by Holiness? We will be holy because we will, through it all, be shaped and crafted by the one who is Holy?


A woman stalks out of the care home. She looks at me, angry and terrified at how angry she is.


“I’ve been so hurt. I am so angry,” she said. She mentions the harm she suffered at lovers, at her mother, and not being able to leave this place.


We talk about how it would be weird to not be upset. Our anger can’t hurt God like it can hurt other People. Our anger belongs at the Throne with the Son, the only place where our anger is Holy.


The next day, she is different, dimmed and glad. She is listening.


That week, I am to have a zoom meeting with someone very important. I craft all my arguments in my head ahead of time. I think of every reason why what I want should be what happens.


I wait on the zoom call for 15 minutes. Nothing but silence. And I listen to that silence because it is kind and wise and when it is that quiet I feel a bit silly for how much fuss I made. It is the kind of quiet where the Lord lets us return to Him almost without us realizing it.


I am reminded of letters I haven’t sent to people who could really use a letter.


I am reminded of books I am making.


Prayer books I make out of computer papers, foam board, and placemats, the streamlined Daily Office booklets I make for people I work with on the street. The only way to do a decent job making them is to measure carefully. And to make them small.


When I work on the books, I a feel am able to bear patiently with myself. As agonzing as it can be, to bear each moment quietly and with Christ. To work alongside His Word. These Daily

Office booklets that, I hope, will bring Christ to people.


There, cutting foam boards, using a need and thread to make a bound book, and talking to Jesus while I do it, I am no longer conformed to passions of my former ignorance. My LIfe Someone who Thinks and Does has been cast down by a Silent Zoom call. I am as small as listening, as speaking. I am making a small, Holy thing. I hear a song that quotes scripture:


The Life I Now Live I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.


I am quiet. I am humbled. His Holiness is making someone Holy again.





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