There is this elusive verse in the Word that strikes me each time I read it. “Be Holy because I am Holy.” It seems simple in concept, but the reality of this verse has deep implications in life.

To be holy is to be perfect. Only the Father exists in perfection, yet He still commands us to be holy.

James tells us that trials will test our faith, produce steadfastness, and make us perfect. Then Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:1 that we ought to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” As I have been reflecting on these things, I know that while suffering is used to make me holy, there is also this deep responsibility in me to flee from all the sin that so easily entangles. I feel the weight of these things more heavily while living in a context that is so different from my own. The Father has called me here to make Him known among those who do not know.

Of course, my life was full of sin in America, but it seemed oftentimes that I could function more easily under it. While I still dealt with my sin and confessed it before the Father, there were ways to hide there that I don’t have the ability to do here. If you ever want to find out what kind of sin lies hidden in your heart, you should live in a culture that is not your own. It is a everpresent mirror in your face. I am constantly fighting my flesh as I am beaten up by this culture. Contrary to popular belief, loving sinners is not always easy.

When the Father called me to leave my life in America and live in Africa, I knew it would not be easy. In fact, I expected it to be hard. But I also knew that the Father would be sufficient and that He was worth it. The battle of the enemy is fierce. I see it in ways here that I never saw in America. Perhaps I was so distracted by life that He didn’t have to work as hard. But working among some of the most hardened and tough people in the world brings the battle to the forefront. I think often about how I was told from day one that this job would be like storming the gates of hell with a water pistol. That could not be more accurate. As I have been fighting against my flesh, fighting against the culture, fighting against the enemy, I have seen that holiness is necessary in order to show Jesus Christ to the world. If these people see a broken down sinner who is getting beaten at every turn, how will they know that their greatest hope is in the Father?!

Not only does my relationship with the Father suffer if I am not living in holiness, but the portrait of the gospel is tainted. That is something that I cannot live with.

This life is uncomfortable. It is hard, but it is good. I don’t need comfort. I need the Father. I am constantly seeing the sin that I need to confess. Don’t be fooled. I am not always quick to confess. It is sanctifying and painful. But praise the
Father that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

That is what I cling to. When I fall over and over again, He picks me back up. While I am nowhere close to being holy, He is sanctifying me. As I look into the eyes of a friend who is so deceived and has no hope and I see the Father soften her heart, there is no pain that isn’t worth that victory. In my fight for holiness, my prayer is that the lost will look at my life and see the beauty of the gospel. I am confident that I will not obtain perfection on this side of Heaven. But if the Father can use me to show himself to a hurting world, then the fight is worth it.



Jessica S. is serving with our Church Planting team in North Africa among the Arundo. She was sent out from our Faith Family in June of 2012. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys being active, most especially in the outdoors. Jessica will read most anything she can get her hands on and she thrives on time spent with others and loves investing in them.