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Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Lost Cause?

I've been having a great e-mail discussion with a friend. Lately, we've been bantering back and forth about what it means to "be holy." The word 'holiness' sounds very religious and isn't something we readily warm up to in faith. But holiness is called for throughout Scripture. In a meager attempt to help redeem this concept, I share my thoughts with you here.

Now for holiness. I agree that there's a lot of gray area out there and difference of belief will occur- we even see this in the NT with eating food sacrificed to idols (not a real hot topic anymore). But what I would describe as black and white are those principles that can be traced throughout Scripture and give a clear and consistent picture of what God calls holy. In the gray areas, we come with humility and seek harmony with God and others. In black and white, we have to lay down our feelings (because that's part of surrender) and be willing to say, "I will do this because you are God and you know better than I do. I will trust you."

Holiness seems to call us to a form of law-keeping. But, some might inject, aren't we free from the law if we follow Christ? When Scripture teaches that we are free from the law, the meaning is that we are free from law-keeping as a way of being made right with God. That is now the sole role of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. We still have a law to keep, however- the law of love, or the law of Christ, which is mentioned several times in the New Testament. I would describe that law as "doing what please God". Augustine once said, " If you love God, you may do as you incline” True- because a person who truly loves God will be inclined to please God, which is why Jesus and Paul both summed up the entire law in the simple command, “Love God”.

Like I said this weekend- whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything for the glory of God. But how do I know what pleases God? By looking at Scripture to see what things God consistently calls good and what God consistently calls evil, and then having the humility to wrap my life around that viewpoint. Not in a legalistic, judgmental, I'm-better-than-you-because-I-keep-so-many-rules, kind of way, but with a heart of love for God that has been changed by Jesus. What has changed? That I am not on the throne of my own life deciding what is good or holy. In other words, I've come to realize that I am not God, and that is a good thing.

And I think that when the law of love is obeyed with an attitude of grace and joy, this is VERY attractive to others. When others feel accepted for who they are, when people see a life well lived, when people observe love, joy, peace, patience, etc, not only in your life but also directed towards them, this is an attractive holiness. I think why people flocked to Jesus wasn't because he was just like them in every way (participating in their sin), but because he was a holy man, a prophet, that wasn't afraid to look them in the eye and call them friend. He wasn't afraid to touch them as the Pharisees were. He had a joy-filled relationship with God and he invited others to know that same relationship.

On our journey, may we have this same kind of attractive holiness.



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