In my last post, I talked about the different paths my family used to hike in the local park. There was the “slightly inclined hill” (angling at about 75 degrees) and the paved, flat paths. The first was a challenging path that most park patrons avoided (if they even know it was a real trail). The latter was where most people walked and was the obvious way to go. Why would anyone extend the energy to climb an imposing hill when they could just walk on an easy path?
In the park, it was because we were adventurous, energetic kids. In our spiritual lives, it is because “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Sanctified. A word we hear all the time but have a difficult time defining. It’s important to us as Christians and comes up in common “Christian-ese,” but what exactly does it mean?
I’m glad you asked! I pulled out my trusty Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and dug up the answer.
Sanctification means separation to God, purification, and holiness; it is the state to which God calls His followers. He calls us in grace to this Christian course. The related word sanctify means to set apart for God and to make a person or thing the opposite of what is common or ordinary.
Here’s my paraphrase and interpretation of these Greek words in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “It is the desire of God’s heart and the call He has placed on the lives of each of His followers to be set-apart and the opposite of ordinary.”
Set-Apart. Opposite of Ordinary.
As women who have surrendered their lives to Christ through faith alone, this is how we are to live. This is why we need to walk on the narrow path and not just do what everyone else does. It’s not the easy way, but it’s the grace-filled way and it’s the way our Savior leads us. It doesn’t earn our salvation, but it should result from salvation.
Set-apartness needs to affect all aspects of our lives: The words we speak (was that comment uplifting or did it tear down?). The way we interact with guys (am I assessing if he is cute or do I care if his character is upright?). The things we wear (am I wearing this because it’s the fashion or did I evaluate if it is modest and appropriate?). The things we think about (am I building fantasies in my mind or filling my mind with truth and Scripture?). The things we pursue (does this degree or job look good on my resume or is it an opportunity to live as an ambassador of Christ?). The source of our contentment (am I jealous of my friends who are getting married and having kids or am I supporting in their marriages and loving on their kids?). The things that fill our time (am I staring at glowing screens of Facebook, Netflix, or Pinterest or am I engaging with real people around me?). And the reason we live (do I want to be noticed/popular/pretty/successful/fill-in-the-blank or do I want to be set-apart in God’s grace?).
This is a shift in Christian worldview. It departs from the culture (yes, even Christian culture) and the world around us and turns us toward the heart of God. It’s not an easy thing and not for the faint of heart. But it is where Christ is. It’s where He calls us. We must incline our hearts toward Him for He has set us apart from the world through His blood on the cross.
Are we going to walk on the course He died to enable us to follow? Are we going to accept His call to set-apartness? Will we be the opposite of ordinary?
I pray you choose this narrow path.