Why You Need to Be Holy (And It’s Not What You Think)

{By Alexandra Presley}

A wise man once said that if he knew the world would go to pieces tomorrow, he would still plant his apple tree today. Why?

Why care enough to get on your hands and knees and bury a little seed into the ground of this messy world?

What good is the hope of future apples when everything is falling apart?

Wouldn’t it be a holier thing to be reading important books or thinking important thoughts, instead, if we knew the world would go to pieces tomorrow? Something about gardening just sounds too. . . physical. Too fleeting. Too unimportant.

But I don’t think it is.

Sometimes, maybe, you have to wonder what’s the use of loving a place that is so dangerous, and dirty, and wicked.

Sometimes the best thing seems to be stepping grandly up above all the material muck of this world to avoid getting ourselves tainted by any of it. Sometimes it’s easier to imagine we’re in league with all the more spiritual things – like lofty words, and lofty thoughts, and general, perfect immaterialness. Those things are clean and bright. And distant.

Distant because our lives are bubbling over with imperfect things, dingy things, loud and inconvenient things.

how to be holy

Distant because, actually, what we have to realize is that materiality is not the opposite of spirituality. True holiness is not distant. It’s screaming in our ears and pulling at our hands and scraping off our pride.

God doesn’t hate earthly things. In fact, He loved the earth, in all it’s wild glory, so very much that He put a physical body on His precious Son and sent Him down into the middle of the mess to redeem it. If God hated physical things, He would never have gone to the trouble.

“Don’t knock materiality, God invented it.” Robert Farrar Capon.

He did invent it, and so first there was the trouble of creation; the wonderful trouble of making a wildly spinning round thing and then filling it up with everything that hadn’t ever existed before, like dragonflies and dirt, sunrises, cherry blossoms, hedgehogs, and bird songs; the trouble of making a perfect man and making a perfect woman; the trouble of watching them so quickly lie and blame and disobey; the trouble of sending them out of the beautiful place He had made for them; most of all the trouble of loving them enough to die just so they will come back home again someday. All of it – all of His story – involves real, broken people in a real, broken world. We have to embrace that gritty realness because it is us.

Indeed, some of the most spiritual things we could imagine turn out to also be the most physical things of all: like His  broken body and His bloodshed.

Like doubting fingers feeling inside the real, wounded places where the physical nails held innocent physical hands to a physical cross. Like a little girl who heard with her physical ears the physical voice of Jesus whisper marvelous life back into her body. Like a healed blind man who realized, for the first time, the glory it is to be looking and also seeing. Like a child being born in real, awful, beautiful pain. Like a gentle hand to hold onto, and the saltiness of warm, repentant tears on your cheeks, and all kinds of loud, wonderful voices, singing together. Like planting things with the dirt stuck all up under your fingernails and the sun browning your arms and neck. Planting trees.

Those things are real and glorious and disorderly all at the same time. They’re holy things. Marvel at them.

There’s so much wrong here with us, but there’s still so much that’s right. You can yearn for our garden home with all of your aching heart, while at the same time living this broken life with all of your feeble might. Because there is this hope: He’ll make every damaged thing beautiful in it’s time. And there is this truth: that it is more marvelous to be broken and redeemed by love, than to have always been safe and guiltless.

Without brokenness there is no redemption. Without the rain things never grow. Don’t resent the realness of it all. Don’t be afraid to love this earth. Our hands are for giving, our lungs are for laughing, our hearts are for loving.

A seed in the ground is for the hope of a future apple tree.

 

What are your thoughts? Are sacred and secular two different worlds? Comment below! 

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