I think probably the first time I heard the word “holy” was in 1964.
That’s the year the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series. I was eight years old that year, and growing up in a St. Louis suburb, I was a Cardinal fan. I had dressed for Halloween the year before as Stan Musial. So I loved when Bob Gibson pitched game seven of the series on two days rest and went the distance, ending the game and bringing the pennant to St. Louis by getting Bobby Richardson to pop up to Dal Maxville at second base.
All season long, I head the word holy as I listened to Harry Caray call the Cardinal games on KMOX radio. Before he migrated to Chicago to announce the Cubs games, Harry was teamed up with the legendary Jack Buck doing play by play in St. Louis. He was famous for how he described a Cardinal home run. “There’s a drive, way back. It might be outta here. It could be. It is! A home run.”
Then what came next?
That phrase is so famous that if you go today to Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in Chicago, you can select from four different designs on tee shirts that have Harry’s face or signature on it and simply say “Holy Cow.”
Flash forward two years. On my 10th birthday, January 12, 1966, at 6:30 in the evening, I was glued to our TV for the premiere of a brand new ABC TV show. Beginning that night and continuing for months to come, I made it my aim to watch every episode of the new hit series – Batman.
If you’ve ever seen the show in reruns, you know that two or three times in each episode, Batman’s sidekick Robin (the Boy Wonder) would exclaim his astonishment about one thing or another by saying “Holy (fill in the blank with whatever)!”
If you’re interested in seeing how Robin filled in those blanks, you can find a representative sample of them on Youtube:
But long before Harry Carry and Batman, there were other common phrases that people used that start with holy. Holy smokes. Holy mackerel. Holy Moley. Holy Guacamole.
And there have been expressions developed over the years that are meant to describe self-righteous people. Holy Rollers. Holy Joes. Holier than thou.
When the word gets used like that, who wants to be thought of as a holy person?
I’ll tell you who. People who love Jesus. People who understand what He has done for them. People who want to be more like Him. People who want to be set apart and free from the enslaving power of sin.
When God saves us, He begins a work in us, making us more like Jesus. We should see evidence of that work. We should see changes in our attitudes, our thoughts, our actions and our desires. We should be growing in godliness.
The reason is not because we’re trying to prove anything to Him or earn His favor. We strive to be holy and blameless before God in response to His love for us demonstrated on the cross.
Is holiness something for which you long? Something for which you strive? Or is it something you’re not really all that concerned about? Are you more concerned with what people think about you than you are about pleasing God?
When your flesh says “this is what I want,” do you say “Here you go?” Or do you say “hold on a minute. Is this pleasing to God?”
Have you shied away from holiness because you don’t want to look weird? Or because you don’t want to be seen as some kind of legalist? Or because holiness is hard? Or because you think “I’ll never be perfect?”
We are to be holy, God says, because He is holy. We are to be different than people whose lives are shaped by the values of this world. Our lives are to be transformed as our minds are renewed by God’s word.
“Strive for peace with everyone,” the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, “and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
What are you striving for today?
For those of us who were not able to attend last weekend’s women’s retreat, here’s a quick look at what was a glorious weekend for those who were able to attend:
And congrats to the first two axe throwers who were able to hit the target!
This Sunday, we’re expecting sunny skies in Little Rock, and a high of 68 degrees. The sun is supposed to set in Little Rock at 6:21 pm.
The following Sunday, the sun sets at 5:13 pm. And the high that day is forecast right now to be 61 degrees.
You see where this is heading, right?
So while it’s still warm and we have daylight, let’s have one big get together and have some fun and games.
What does it mean to be a born again Christian? Is there any other kind? We’ll see how Jesus explained what it means to be born again as we dig into John 3 this week.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!