1 Peter 1:13–16 (NLT): 13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

The fundamental idea of “holiness” is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. Zodhiates, Spiros).

I surrendered my life to Jesus as a prepubescent youth. I was held to a behavioral code and taught if I followed the behavioral code that God was pleased with me. That he accepted me. I was also taught that failing to meet the behavioral code was shameful and I had disappointed God. If I didn’t meet the code of behavior I made God ashamed of me. (I don’t think this was taught on purpose).

The “code” of conduct delivered can sorted into two lists, te “do” list and the “don’t under any circumstances” list. (By the way, this isn’t the exhaustive list).

Those behaviors were mostly things you “don’t do”, such as:

  1. Don’ t say bad words, which included the word “fart” in our home (a temptation that is all too enticing for a 12 year old).
  2. Don’t drink alcohol. (Which was not impossible to do at 12 years old, but fairly easy to avoid).
  3. Don’t wear blue jeans to church, except on Sunday nights, but you better wear a nice shirt! (I knew this rule because how adamant my mother was about making sure I didn’t wear the wrong things).
  4. Don’t talk about, think about or even develop questions about sex. (From time to time this would occur. I wasn’t punished for it, but you could tell it was supposed to be really uncomfortable for everyone involved. Mostly because every one would whisper, even if your were the only two people in the house. And faces became red, oh and the undefinable look the eyes silently communicated. You know exactly what I’m talking about).

Then there was the proactive list of things you do, such as:

  1. Tuck your shirt in…all shirts.
  2. When an offering plate is passed, put money in it. You don’t want anyone to see this happen. (This has established a moral dilemma with the current “online” giving option that has developed in our church).
  3. Give kids some change or a dollar so they don’t have to suffer the shame of letting the plate pass by. (This was modeled by everyone. There were some people that would even ask kids if they had money for the offering and if we said no, they would give us money for the offering plate. I heard there were some kids that would put some of it in the offering plate and keep some for themselves).
  4. Make sure you do whatever is necessary to get stars on the chart, patches on things sown on top of the ridiculous beanie, sash for vest the kid’s/youth program requires you to wear. (You will receive quite a bit of “flash attention” for this from the adults you walk past quietly as you go to your respective class.)
  5. Know answers to Bible questions. (Pay attention to details connected with Adam, Eve, Abraham, King David, Jesus and Mary.
  6. Memorize the books of the Bible (which I was never able to really do, even with that ridiculous song they taught. I wanted to, honest, but for some reason they didn’t stick.
  7. Memorize John 3:16, (eventually you may find John 3:17 and it will be amazing!)
  8. Invite people to church. It’s important that everyone comes. If they don’t, you already know who the conversations are going to be about on the way to church.

Today, I question if this is really the type of things God felt were “holy.”