I’m reading a terrific little monograph by Asbury Seminary President Timothy Tennent called This We Believe: Meditations On The Apostle’s Creed.
(By the way, I received the book as a gift through the mail and in spite of several internet searches can’t locate a way for you to buy it yourself. When it becomes available, I certainly will post a way for you to get a copy.)
Anyway, in explaining the section of the Creed that declares “We believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints . . .”, Tennent says this:
To be holy means to be set apart . . . Luther and the early Reformers of the 16th century taught the doctrine of alien righteousness. This doctrine means that we are saved through the righteousness of Christ alone and that through faith God graciously gives to us the righteousness of Christ. We are therefore righteous or holy but only because Christ is righteous or holy . . . However [as Wesleyans] salvation is about more than justification. Righteousness for Wesley was about more than God just looking at us through a different set of glasses. Alien righteousness must become native righteousness. Imputed righteousness must become actualized righteousness. Declared righteousness must become emobided righteousness, wrought in us not by our won strength but through the power of the living God. The Church is not merely to be “declared holy;” we are to be holy.
So as individuals and as a community, we are to become what God has already declared us to be: holy. Set apart for a purpose.
God did not save you just to get you to heaven after you die. He saved you also to make you more like Jesus during your remaining time on earth.
The call as Christians — especially this peculiar branch of the church called Wesleyans & Methodists — is to surrender to the holy-making power of God at work in us.