Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Effect of Holiness

“When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” Exodus 34:29

The flesh of Moses’ face took on the reflected glory of the Almighty, because Moses had been in God’s presence. He had spent forty days and nights on the mountain with God; and now returning to the people he was unaware that his face shone. It glowed like a fire, a lamp. This effect of being with God, this physical manifestation so frightened the people that they backed away from Moses and would not come near him. Why would light cause such a fearful reaction? We all think of light as an attractive force. Light is good. But here, this light; is unheard of, unnatural, radiating from a human face, it becomes a thing to fear. Not until Moses beckons the people, do they approach. Perhaps now aware that it really is Moses, the crowd knows he will not harm them, nor will harm come to them from the power that radiates from his face. But the people know that Moses’ appearance has radically changed since his venture up the mountain to meet with God. The anger is gone, there is no belittling of the people; only a glowing face and the commands of God as sealed in the covenant.
And now, Moses learns the cost of coming near to holiness; of becoming holy. That long journey we take to become what God calls us to become. Moses learns it can affect even close relationships, causing people to fall back and to be afraid. Being near God and his holiness has set Moses apart. His face is radiant and it unnerves the people so much that he has to wear a veil when among them; a veil, which creates a barrier and keeps him at a distance from them.
So also, holiness becomes a barrier often. As we become more like Jesus Christ, those around us may back away. Fearful, for themselves and for us they create distance and create reasons for the changes in our life. Think of all the excuses for not becoming Christlike, for not following too closely, Think of how people who pursue holiness are deemed to have missed out on the “good things of life.” Think of how people who pursue holiness are thought to have squandered their talents and abilities in this life.
Think how people who pursue holiness in this life meet with the Giver of life and find life; eternal and abundant. Think how people who pursue holiness find all that humanity hopes for and lose nothing except that which diminishes real life. Think of spending time with God and the effect being actually visible in your face.