Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.Hebrews 12:14 NIV
This verse gives two directives. The first is to make every effort to live at peace with everyone. It can also be translated as “with everyone make every effort to live in peace.” Whether it is me making an effort to live at peace with everyone or all of us striving to be at peace with each other, the effect is the same. Peace should reign within the body of Christ.
We are then told that we need to be holy. That without holiness, a person will not see God. We have been made holy by the sanctifying blood of Jesus. But that is not what the author of Hebrews is referring to here. His concern is with the way I live my life. That I seek to be holy each day and in all that I do. This directive is not limited to Hebrews. Throughout the Scripture, we are instructed to live holy lives, distinct from the people we live amongst. This involves both moral purity and being dedicated to God’s use.
This directive to be holy is not optional; it is essential. Without holiness, we will not see God. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that so long as I have accepted Jesus as my savior, all is well. But the Scripture, including this passage, tells a different story. God does indeed work in my life, transforming me into the image of Christ. But I am called to participate in that transformation, leaving my old way of life behind, taking up my cross, and following Jesus as my Lord. And that is what holiness is all about, being a willing lump of clay that God will mold into his likeness and for his own use.