Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. When I encounter the same message from different people at different times in different contexts, I pay attention. I expect that God is trying to tell me something. In recent weeks I’ve read a couple of articles about holiness and a related Scripture passage that had me thinking, “What is God saying to me?” The first encounter I had with the topic of holiness is an article by Cheryl Bridges Johns in the Church of God Evangel. Johns laments that many Christians today see no need for holiness, and that unfortunately, these “profane Christians . . . hinder the message that Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver all creation from the bondage of sin” (p. 13). While there is hope, it begins with the “death of self” and requires that we purge ourselves of self-seeking behaviors. Another discussion is found in the recent entry by Antipas Harris on Renewal Dynamics. Harris reminds us that although we live in this world we are not supposed to live like the world. In particular, “we must remain in tune with the enduring nature of God’s character — holiness to which all believers are called.” As I contemplated Harris’ blog and, in particular the readers’ comments, which seemed to suggest an uncertainty over what holiness is, I happened to read a passage in Col. 3:1-25, in which Paul refers to unholy versus holy behaviors and characteristics. In reflecting on the potential importance of these encounters, I recalled a song from the early 90s that says, “Lord, I hunger for holiness, and I thirst for the righteousness that’s yours.” The song reflects on the relationship of holiness, the desire for God, and the life and death battles (at least spiritually) we must fight in order to be victorious. I wonder, has anyone else been thinking about holiness lately?
Posts Tagged ‘holiness’
Centuries of social, political, cultural, and religious diversity weigh heavily on expressions of Christianity. Party politics, greed, personality driven ministries, ministry as business, and denominational and non-denominational church struggles over members seem to be the order of the day. These influences have moved Christians further and further away from divine principles to which Christians are called to live out before a world that is far from God. The Church is called to be holy; so Christians must pursue holiness amidst an unholy world. The world does not know God so the world cannot lead in holiness. The best way to win the world to faith in Christ is by bearing witness to Christ through the Christian’s lifestyle of holiness – a life that is indifferent of the world—and expressed love towards those who are not living that life. Miller argues that a careful revisit of historical developments that have altered Christianity from its biblical form of indifference might be a meaningful way for the Church to regain its fervor in representing Christ in the world—a world that God expects for Christians to be in but not of. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you ever look around you and think “These people just don’t care anymore—whatever happened to trying to live a moral life?” Not that I have that area altogether, but I am shocked at the indifference around me some days. Sometimes it makes you want to give up, and just go with the flow. Why should I care about how I live, if no one else seems to care? Then I snap back to reality and remember that every decision—every action has a consequence. Maybe that’s why Jesus spoke the way He did about purity and its importance in our lives. Striving for purity does make a difference and is worth the fight. Purity does matter.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The word used for “pure” in the text has a message for us—it is the root that gives us the English word catharsis. The word is a violent word and pictures the process of the purification of metal in a furnace. When I worked in industry, I worked for a specialty chemicals company that purified metal. I would see furnaces heated above 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit. Metal ingots were dropped into these furnaces. The furnaces were so hot that the very light they emitted was the heat itself—the light could set things on fire across the room when a furnace door was opened. I had to wear special goggles to protect my eyes from being burned. The hard metal ingot would melt like an ice cube before our eyes and disappear into an orange-white puddle of bubbling liquid—unless there was water trapped in the metal, in which case the ingot would explode. I will never forget seeing a white powdery substance floating to the surface of the liquid metal. That powder was the dross—impurities trapped in the metal were now floating up so we could see them. As I stood there observing the process of purification, my life experience was yielding another one of those precious teaching moments…
A curious sign can be found in some streets of Virginia Beach. You may not recognize it at first; it means “no cursing,” “no swearing,” “no profanity.” The “No Cursing” rule was established in the early 1990s as part of a “Beach Behaviour Campaign” intended to control wild behaviour in and to improve the public image of one of America’s favorite resort towns. Nearby Norfolk, on the other hand, dropped the so-called “antiquated profanity law” and determined “a ban was unconstitutional” (Virginia Pilot, August 27, 2008). To some, cursing is a violation of the personal sphere, to others the prohibition of cursing is a violation of the right of free speech. What is a proper Christian perspective? What is the problem of cursing?