Christianity is both an identity and a lifestyle. Christians are identified as 'holy' (whether we feel like it or not) and are entrusted with the responsibility to 'live holy lives' (whether we feel like it or not). In other words, Christians are "consecrated" as God's people, yes, but Christians are also 'consecrated' for a task. It is our "vocation". It is the "calling" to which we've been "called".
Consecration is a word that means to be set aside to live
holy lives… or to be declared sacred for a holy purpose. It carries with it
an idea of both status and action.
Christian as "status"
When we become followers of Jesus we are
declared sacred; we are "made" (or re-made) holy. Our sins are forgiven. Our lives redeemed and renewed.
Our status before God is a fully completed adoption into his family. We are his
children. And therefore, we are his holy people just as he is holy. We reflect
God. We are called the light of the world just as we know that Jesus is the
Light of the world. And yet we are not consecrated so that we could be
placed on a shelf for others to adore in terms of our privileged status (“Wow,
look at those consecrated people”). When we behave with this sort of arrogance then we reveal quite an opposite reality.
No, we are consecrated for God’s active purpose
in this world. “I urge you,” Paul says in Ephesians 4:1.“I urge you (or, literally, "I call you") to live a
life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Consecration means
to be called holy. It is a status.
Now, I expect, most Christians would admit that we ourselves are not holy. We are sinners. We mess up regularly. We don't feel very 'sacred' throughout much of our life. Perhaps this is why many Christians enjoy worship experiences… because it allows us a focused time of relative holiness as we are caught up in an environment saturated with praise. Those moments remind us of who we are… God's people.
Because of the tensive paradox of our holy status and unholy lives, we have no reason for arrogance as Christians. We are reminded in Ephesians 4:7 that each of us is a recipient of God's grace. None of us earned our status… and, in truth, we are still in process of working out our salvation.
Christian as "action"
For this reason, consecration is also, in a sense, an action. Christians by nature have more than just a status. In fact, it
is precisely because of our status that we are to live a life worthy of our
status. As followers of Jesus (status), we are to act as followers of Jesus (action).
But many of us
don’t feel consecrated in the regular activity of our lives. Maybe we don’t even know where to begin to connect our status as Christians with our activity in this busy world. And yet, we must integrate status that stems from our faith in Jesus with the faithful action that stems from our following of Jesus. These two together must become the regular pattern of our lives. It is our calling in life. Thus, “I call you," the apostle Paul says, "to live a life
worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
how do we do that? How do we actively live a life that projects Christ? Most of us can’t,
and don’t want to be in fact, consecrated into ordained full-time ministry. Somewhat ironically, we
don’t even know what a minister does all week. How do pastors spend their time? In meetings? Pouring over the Bible? Listening to problems? Many of us just can't do that each week. So what are we supposed to do? How do we live a life worthy of our calling
to holy status & action when we need to spend 40+ hours a week at work in an office,
or in front of a computer, or 10 hours a week commuting in a car, or
innumerable hours a week making meals and helping our kids with their homework
and getting them into bed or going home today and watching the final round of
the Masters? How do we project a consecrated life when most of our life seems
rather busy or ordinary or even unholy (not bad for the most part) but not
sacred? Right? I mean, are the mundane and repetitious actions of our lives
able to be considered holy? Or do we all need to go get a clerical collar?
*These thoughts emerge from a sermon I gave at Brookwood Community Church on April 14, 2013.