• Tennessee Perkins

"Be Holy, for I Am Holy."

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

How God Used a Beauty Competition to Teach Me Holiness

Have you ever thought of yourself as holy? Have you ever thought it possible to be holy? I for one know I am faaaar from perfect, let alone holy, but the God who made me and loves me more than anyone else ever could has called me to be holy. Just like He has called all His children. Being holy is not just a state of mind we occasionally adopt when we feel up to it, or a persona we put on for church in the presence of other Christians, but is a command given to us by God. A command I've found multiple times in the Bible in various places across the Old and New Testament. To help us understand what that might look like, we can look at its definition: "HOLY: Set aside for sacred used, as opposed to common use; standing apart from sin and evil; characteristic of God; see also PURE." (NLT) I have been looking into this calling over the last few months, because honestly I never considered that holiness applied to me, let alone is expected of me. Of all of us who claim to love God. God says,"If you love me, you'll obey my commands." (John 14:15). And one of these commands is to adopt holiness, as is written in 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 12:14 Leviticus 11:45; 19:2; 20:7.... (Hopefully we're all on the same page now that we are called to be holy! :P) After making this connection that loving God means obeying God, and part of obeying God is to be holy, things in my life began to change. And part of this change unfolded at the beauty competition Queensland's Hottest Ginger 2019.

If you know me, you know I love to be on stage, participating in fashion shows and doing my thing behind the camera. I've been modelling for about eight years, and have worked with brands such as ghd, Michael Hill, Affinage Australia etc. and so events like Queensland's Hottest Ginger are a fun way for me to get that little adrenaline rush on stage (plus a chance at winning some decent prize money, won't lie!) After doing well in the first heat (pictured above) and making it to the finals, I borrowed a dress I was sure would be a knock-out and secure me as the winner. Green and silky, complete with thigh-high splits and a flattering v-neck cut, I felt like a movie star. After the service on Sunday, I pulled out my phone to show a photo of it to my friend. As I was unlocking my phone, I suddenly felt that church was not the place to show this dress. Reluctantly, I continued, and after viewing the photo, my friend was hesitant to give an opinion. Later on after asking my mom what she thought, I questioned my choice altogether. "If you have to ask, you already know the answer," she said. So now I was conflicted. I really wanted to win, but would I wear a dress I couldn't confidently show to a friend in church? A few days before the finals, another friend from church said they'd come to support me, and again I had doubts about my chosen outfit. "But I look so beautiful in it, dammit! Why should it matter?" I thought to myself, while another voice said, "Yeah, but how will you feel getting up on that stage wearing it in front of all your Christian mates?" "Who cares what they think, some of your other friends have said you look incredible, and you know the judges are going to love it!" I tried to reason, until that other voice came back and asked, "What if those Christian mates brought your pastor along?" And that stopped me. Would I wear it in front of my pastor? In fact, would I wear it in front of JESUS? And I suddenly remembered His call for us to be holy. That our bodies are a temple in which His Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16) and that are to be holy and pleasing to Him (Romans 12:1), not something to be used for our own gain. Yes I was entering a beauty competition, and yes that is basically what constitutes the event, but that doesn't mean I have to compromise my beliefs to win the prize. And even more importantly I realised that I had two standards. One, for when I lived in the world, and another, for when I was with God. I was more than happy to wear a pretty revealing dress to look the part in front of a room full of randoms, but uncomfortable to show even a photo of it to Godly friends, let alone wear it in front of them. How can I claim to love God one day, and go on living however I want to the next?

Here's where the lesson really kicked in.

The event was held on a Sunday afternoon, so I expected not to be able to make it to church that night. Regardless, I had made the decision to wear another dress (pictured above), with full peace and confidence in its red carpet flare and my standing with God. I drove to the competition with a friend, and on the way I mentioned my current focus on holiness and how I thought I could apply that practically. The first step for me personally, I explained, is to be more serious about drunkenness. God tells us that drunkenness is foolish (Proverbs 20:1) and that basically it has no place in His kingdom (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:10). Now that may seem harsh, and I personally never considered drunkenness to always be a bad thing, but in light of God's calling to be holy (and to be set apart, and be pure), I have to say that drunkenness has to go. So I shared with my friend my new decision to be careful about alcohol consumption, ironically while on our way to an Irish pub!

The competition proved to be heaps of fun, I had some beautiful friends come to support me, and I had a great time up on stage. As I didn't end up winning, I was able to make it to church after all. We arrived during the end of worship (relieved to be in my lengthy, white-lace tiers) and not long after I was called to the front of the stage (now I was really relieved in my outfit change!) A few months ago, my church asked me to become a Congregational Leader, having recognised my leadership qualities and involvement in church services and activities. That night was the night our church had decided to pray for all the new Congregational Leaders (CLs). So there I was, standing before my church (alongside the other leaders) being prayed for in my new leadership position. Our pastor explained to the congregation that the role of a CL is similar to that of a deacon, and went on to outline their qualities, as written in 1 Timothy 3:8-13:

In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. (NLT)

Wow! I did NOT know that was going to happen! As our pastor was reading this passage, all I could think was how I would have felt should I have gone against my better judgement and worn the other dress. More so, I was astounded that I had recently made the decision to abstain from drunkenness, not realising it was a quality of my new role. Imagine standing there before my church, being announced as one of their new leaders who is to be respected, who has integrity and a clear conscience ... oh my goodness. But God knew. He knew the whole time, and slowly but gently He was working on my heart. Did you read that part about, "If they pass the test..."? (3:10) 'Cause a test He sure gave me. (I only just took that in as I was finishing up this blog! How incredible is God...)

He gave us free will, so we can do whatever we want to, but He has also called us to live a holy life. A life that reflects His goodness and purity. And if we choose to be Christians, and we claim to love Him, then we are to listen to Him. I think this lesson will stick with me forever. [*Disclaimer: I am STILL imperfect and will STILL make mistakes. Don't let my failures lead you to question the faith.] #faith #lifelessons #holiness

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