Baby Tigers and False Peace

“Is it even possible to live a holy Christian life? The kind of life we talk about and aspire to, but seem to fall short of on a daily basis?”

Some form of this question has been buzzing around in my conversations the past week or so with different people in my life. I’ve come to the conclusion that we humans fall into two categories on this subject: man-centered or God-surrendered.

A man-centered approach to this life assumes (rightly so) that we are a hopelessly flawed bunch of people trying to do our best. Not just flawed, but sinful. We float from one good intention to another, sometimes succeeding, but often falling short. We hope that we can meet the goals we’ve set, but we are realistic about the fact that we are mere mortals and certainly not saints. The bar is always just a little bit out of reach.

A God-surrendered person realizes that yes, that bar is set pretty high and the chances of us performing our way to the top are slim to none. They take into consideration however, something that the others do not: we CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us… through His power alone. God-centered people don’t do things God’s way because they are superhuman holy rollers…but they do believe that Christ’s power in them makes all things possible.

When we get cozy with our sin we will find all sorts of ways to gloss over it… but God says “be holy as I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). He doesn’t tell us to be perfect or without flaw, but our general walk should be toward holiness and away from the sin that entangles us. Sometimes that walk feels more like a slow marathon through quicksand… but we keep going in the direction of holiness. Why? Because we feel like it? No. Because we know “the way of man is not in himself” (Jeremiah 10:23) and that in Christ we are “a new creation; old things have passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Rosaria Butterfield wrote a fantastic article showing us the futility of the man-centered approach to sin:

As believers, we lament with the apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:19–20). But after we lament, what should we do? How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?

Now that it is in the house, don’t buy it a collar and a leash and give it a sweet name. Don’t “admit” sin as a harmless (but un-housebroken) pet. Instead, confess it as an evil offense and put it out! Even if you love it! You can’t domesticate sin by welcoming it into your home. Don’t make a false peace. Don’t make excuses. Don’t get sentimental about sin. Don’t play the victim. Don’t live by excuse-righteousness. If you bring the baby tiger into your house and name it Fluffy, don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and Fluffy is eating you alive. That is how sin works, and Fluffy knows her job. Sometimes sin lurks and festers for decades, deceiving the sinner that he really has it all under control, until it unleashes itself on everything you built, cherished, and loved.

Holy cow… or baby tiger. Time to remember that the gospel we trusted in for our salvation is the same gospel that keeps us marching in the direction of home. We will always struggle with sin, but it sin doesn’t get to make the decisions. Paul wrote “…that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God…” 2 Corinthians 1:12. So, in answer to the question “is it possible to live a holy Christian life?” I say it’s not only possible, but should be expected. How different things would be if we thought that way… with simplicity and sincerity about seeking after Jesus.  No false peace, no excuses, no baby tigers in the house. Just authentic forward movement, not by our might but by His spirit.

Rise Up

I have a friend who told me a most eye-opening story the other night. She was speaking with a fellow mom who candidly just blurted out how Facebook was making her feel like crap. “Do you ever feel like that?” she asked. When my friend explained she wasn’t on any social media and neither were her teens, she was met with total confusion. “Well… do your kids even have any friends then?” was the honest and brutal response. It turned into a whole long debate, but ended with my sweet friend holding up her phone and proclaiming “this may define you and your family, but it’s not going to define mine!” And that was that.Sadly, unplugged people like her are kind of an anomaly these days. We treat them like weirdos and wonder how they ever get anywhere in life. To say we are letting the tail wag the dog is an understatement. We genuinely believe that going with the flow is in our best interests, even when it causes hurt and harm. It’s not that we don’t have the intelligence to know better, we do. There’s just this nasty thing called pride that will not be hushed. It’s fueled by a relentless enemy who knows that if he can keep us focused on ourselves, we can’t focus on much else. This passage from Lisa Whittle takes the breath right out of my lungs as she laments seeing kids she loves fall into this trap:“I have heard this story over and over again, and I’m sick to death of it. Another talented, God-breathed soul with a limitless future stuck in a web of earthly entanglements that will alter the course of his life. My anger takes me aback. I expect the sadness. I expect the tears, I don’t expect the mad. But my sadness has taken me here, to the manic food chopping and yelling out loud at the devil. With deep love often comes a rising up, and this is where I am. I am fighting for this kid and my kids and all the kids whom satan wants to take down with drugs and sex and alcohol and porn and self-harm and eating disorders and violence and apathy and entitlement and mind games. All my heart and soul and love is rising up within me and crying out.”I think this is what my normally quiet friend must have felt. In this long list of tragic vices, I find apathy to be the worst. It robs us of any desire to get out of our predicament. We stay lazy and self-focused and uninterested in rising up.Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” If our highest goal is to look good or if we are driven by a fear of missing out… we are going to “cast off restraint” and make poor choices. It can be as dull as wandering aimlessly or as deadly as running totally wild. A vision is more than just a pipe dream or even a goal… in this context, it means revelation from God. A Biblical vision gives us a bigger purpose outside of ourselves. It’s the thing we align ourselves up with because we believe it to be worthy. It’s looking beyond the little screen in front of us to something larger.Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Approval from God first and foremost. Let the rest shake out how it will, but being right with God is first. Yes, we will look weird at times. We may even miss out on some things. There’s a heavy-handed message telling us to keep on in that rat race and que sera sera… it’s the enemy hoping we’ll trade in the vision for some cheap imitation. The God-breathed kind of adventures are so much more interesting than the filtered little worlds we create. Being unapologetically tied to His Word eliminates a ton of dicey situations if we have the good sense to seek it and treasure it. This “web of earthly entanglements” is no game, but neither is the riches in grace that have been provided to believers through Jesus. Power to rise up and fight for what the enemy has stolen. Crazy love that keeps our feet planted when they want to turn and run. A sound mind that can be quiet and humble in a world gone totally mad. Power, love and a sound mind are riches worth fighting for (1 Timothy 1:7).Will we rise up and fight against this apathy? Will we tell the demanding world that it isn’t actually the boss of us or our kids? We don’t need to go cold turkey on it, but we do need to hitch our wagons to something that isn’t fleeting, something bigger than what we create. “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

Is Holiness A Turn-Off?

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“As we study the holiness of God, we shall see in increasing clearness  how, like fire, it repels and attracts, how it combines into one His infinite distance and His infinite nearness. But the distance will be that which comes out first and most strongly. The sense of sin, of unfitness for God’s presence, is the groundwork of true knowledge or worship of Him as the Holy One.” Andrew Murray

Remember the story in Exodus 3 where God tells Moses to take off his shoes because where he is standing is holy ground? Moses hides his face in absolute fear, understandably so. We are well aware of our distance, of our unfitness. We feel it through our sin, our selfishness that we can’t always overcome, our flesh when it demands it’s way. It isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, but it does push us into making a decision: does it repel us from God further into our own darkness and hardness or does it bring us low and nearer to Him? God sees Moses’ pain and dilemma and shows him there’s a way out.  The man cries out “I’M NOT” (eloquent, ready, etc.) and God replies  “I AM” (all those things and more).

We are not, but He is.

We are not holy or worthy, but He is. He tells us “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). The Old Testament makes us acutely aware of this distance, our unfitness to draw near, and the New Testament provides our promised savior who came and bridged that gap. If What is in Him, it now also in us. The holiness of God in the ‘old’ leads straight into the love of God in the ‘new’ – but it’s not a one way street. That love should point us right back around to desiring holiness.

We hear about the need these days to just love more. Yes and amen. Our greatest commandment is still to love God and love people. What does that look like? Love doesn’t just pop up as some separate entity or feeling because we want it to, not real love anyway. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We all have the capacity for it, but it’s through Jesus that we are able to actually walk it out.

Be holy because I am holy. Love because I first loved you.

As we draw near the fire, we become holy and we receive the ability to love. Holiness gets a bad rap though sometimes – it means judgment gets reconciled with all that love. We need holiness. Not to go alongside our love, but to give birth to it in a sense, because without it, it’s just fleeting human emotion. Sin has hooked us and the world has guilted us into thinking convictions equal unholy and cruel judgment.  The “no hate”/”all you need is love” campaigns mean nothing without the backing of a Holy God behind them. If those things worked, we’d be living in a pretty wonderful world and we’d have no need for a Savior at all. Jesus came not to improve us, but to give us new life. His holiness gets grafted right into our very being. If we find ourselves empowered by the idea of love that starts and ends with our own awesome abilities, we are missing love the way God intended it to be, the emptiness of it all will eventually come to the surface.

Love flows out of holiness. It’s the source from which all else is made possible. It’s not some extra attribute we strive for like kindness or charity, holiness is the pure character of God where mercy and judgment join together. Sin has so desensitized us that we no longer recognize holiness or even seek it. Love is the idol of the day, it sits separate out on it’s own little island and gets trotted out by Christians and non-believers alike as a kind of argument-ending silencer – who can argue with love? It sounds good. Only a jerk wouldn’t want people to love more. It just doesn’t thrive without holiness as its foundation. When coupled with Christ, that love is tangible and unstoppable. When it is born of our own desires, it’s fragile and fleeting.

As believers, it’s vital we value and receive God’s holiness in our lives. It’s not something we strive after like some pie in the sky behavior chart where God gives us a gold star for good deeds – it happens when we let ourselves be drawn to the holy fire, not repelled by it. We must crave all of Him, the merciful and the holy because that’s who He is.

It repels or it attracts. It hardens or it melts. Don’t ever underestimate the need we all have for repentance and drawing near, even if it is uncomfortable at first. We don’t escape any hardship by pulling away from the heat, but like Moses we come to find out that He does actually hear us and see us:

“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heart their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows… I will certainly be with you.”(Exodus 3:7-8)

Is love the way to holiness? Is holiness the way to love? Is it like the chicken and the egg? Here’s what I know: They don’t exist in a vacuum. God is all-loving AND He’s all-holiness… a contradiction that fits perfectly together when we stop focusing on just one.

Chasing Self Isn’t Brave

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The following Facebook post by writer Lore Wilbert is bold and strong and necessary, like a much needed shot of espresso on a dreary morning. She speaks with grace and conviction. Dear believers, something precious is getting lost in the shuffle of our ridiculous obsession with popular opinion.  We are called to first and foremost to holiness. Does anyone remember that word? God is called “HOLY HOLY HOLY” two times in the scriptures and that’s a big deal. The heavenly hosts repeat it three times. This isn’t a quality that exists in a vacuum, out in space somewhere. It comes to us through God Himself, as we are conformed to His image. There are some very loud voices speaking the name of Jesus and preaching a one-sided gospel. It’s a self-serving gospel devoid of a cross, absent of repentance and absent the chance for true freedom. Jesus does not cheer us on to chase our sin, no matter how “brave” or “authentic” we think we may be. We don’t get to choose our own truths, and I for one, am grateful for that. “You must be holy because I am holy”, Jesus said (1Peter 1:16). When something is made holy, Biblically speaking, it is set aside, consecrated and made pure. It’s not a joyless pursuit, but it does require sacrifice, and death to self. People who ebb and flow with the cultural tides are not brave, they are taking the easy way out.

“If people start talking about “my truth” and “your truth,” look them right in the eyes and love them best by speaking the truth. There’s an awful lot in the world that’s not certain, but there’s an awful lot more that is. So rocky as life may seem, seek & find truth. If Jesus is your Savior/Lord, then the biggest truth is His way is the way to life. All of His ways. Not just ones that fit your narrative.

Listen to me, sisters: I’m not going to try to be subversive or coy about this: right now there are women whose blogs you read and books you love to quote who divorced their husbands for a myriad of reasons and are marrying other women. They’re captivating you with their stories, they’re drawing you into their narratives, they’re snaring you with their joy. Listen to me: it’s a trap. It’s a trap they don’t even know they’re setting and they don’t even know they’ve walked into.
I try not to be too noisy about things like this online, but my heart is breaking in a thousand pieces over the past few weeks as I see the fruit of their pulpits eek its way into my sisters lives.
The way of Jesus is narrow—and full of joy. The word of God is hard—and obedience always is. The help of the Holy Spirit is near—because you will need his comfort.
If you’re confused about any of this, the theology, the choices, the decisions made by these women who might have said and taught some things that have *really helped you* in some ways, or even what I’m saying here, here’s what I think you should do: go to your pastor or an elder, or a woman you know who really loves and cleaves to the word of God with her whole life, and lay all this before them, and ask them their thoughts. I’m not your pastor or teacher. But neither should these popular bloggers and teachers be. God, in His goodness, designed the local church to be able to more effectively shepherd you than any blogger, book-writer, podcaster, or conference teacher can or *should.*
Again, though, flee from anyone who starts talking about their truth or yours. Jesus said in this world we will have trouble, and saying there’s only one truth is exactly why. ” Lore Wilbert

Go forward in love, always. Also go with wisdom and discernment, popular does not always mean correct and the joyful way is narrow. The Church doesn’t need any more self-help gospel, we just need people who cleave to the Word and who are willing to practice what they proclaim.

Brokenness Isn’t All That Authentic

 

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“We want flawed. We want imperfect. We want real. And this kind of corduroy rather than polyester faith is a growing and refreshing influence in the world today.” Josh Riebeck, Fighting for Authenticity
If there is one prevailing topic I read about over and over recently, it is that of living “authentically”. It is the badge of honor of an up and coming generation to shake the dust off of the conventional traditions they grew up with for newer “more authentic” experiences. The churches of their parents and grandparents have been a little too polished, the doctrine too narrowly defined, and their leaders too phony. Authenticity is at the top of the list for many church goers and seekers. The bar is high for relationships and personal experiences. People desire community and fellowship, both of which mean nothing if people are not able to be their true selves.

Enter a whole new kind of thinking in our little life circles: being authentic means showcasing our jagged edges and messes, so much so that brokenness is in fact paraded around as a kind of medal of honor. It’s a mantra so often repeated in the books we read and messages we hear I can’t help but wonder if we have gone off the path just a bit. Here’s just a taste of some recent book titles:

Messy: God Likes It That Way;  Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life; Life is Messy, Embrace the Mud;  Dirty, Rotten, Messy Christians;  

Ann Voskamp’s latest book The Broken Way asks “what if brokenness is the path to abundant life?” 

Jen Hatmaker went viral after she wrote a hilarious piece on why she was the worst end of year school mom ever, and mothers all raised their praise hands and chuckled in agreement.

To read something humorously and passionately written about the battles we all face is encouraging, it resonates and makes us feel like we aren’t alone. Life is indeed messy. We are broken people.

Look closely though, at what these messages are telling us: your authenticity is defined by your brokenness. In order to be relevant, you need to have a ‘hot mess’ thing happening somewhere or else you just aren’t relatable.

After awhile, brokenness is not only normalized, it’s embraced. Whether it’s in holy or humorous ways, we read the stories that end with “bless this mess, Lord” and breathe a collective sigh in knowing we aren’t alone in our shortcomings.

To be clear, brokenness is not having a sink full of dirty dishes, piles of laundry or unsigned reading logs. True brokenness is sin separating us from a loving God who offers healing and redemption. Grace, in much of the same way doesn’t just come to fill in the gaps where we fall short or have decided to loosen up our convictions. If we cheapen the meaning of these things, it all becomes dangerously relative. If everything is broken, nothing really is. We don’t see sin for the danger it is, we make light of it. Or ignore it entirely.

“If we are constantly looking for someone else who is broken in all the same places, we overlook the comfort we can have in the perfect God-man. Grace covers. And it covers again and again. Thanks be to God. But if we stop there, we are only telling half of the story… Receiving grace for my failures also includes Christ’s help to turn from sin and embrace new obedience.” Megan Hill

What if… what if the most authentic, real, and relevant thing we can do as believers is to actually pursue wholeness instead of wallowing in the muck of our sin and mess just waiting for Jesus to return? What if we viewed ourselves as new creations who are called to live a life of abundance and not brokenness? (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 10:10)

This isn’t pie in the sky wishful thinking that discounts the effects sin and a broken world have on our lives. This isn’t ignoring genuine tragedies that at times leave us busted-up, messed-up, hollowed-out people. Jesus knows. That’s the whole point. We have a Savior who completely feels the depths of our every sorrow (Hebrews 4:15, Isaiah 53:3). The fantastic news is that He came and redeemed us from having to dwell in that brokenness and sorrow. And that’s where I see the disconnect. We are promoting brokenness over wholeness. Darkness over light. Struggle over victory. We understand there’s no foolproof method to glue all the pieces back together, so we abandon the process entirely and embrace things we were never intended to hold on to.

If I believe brokenness is my permanent condition, how do I view sin and grace? Do I ease up on Biblical doctrine because it’s too harsh for today’s culture to embrace? Do I receive grace for my sin and keep on sinning? C.S. Lewis has a warning for us on this:

“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. You find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.” Mere Christianity

See where this leads? If we only take our spiritual cues from people who struggle with the same sin as we do, we all remain stuck. It’s like being shipwrecked on a desert island and wanting to stay with fellow passengers instead of searching out a boat with a competent captain.  There are too many prominent Christians giving in and lying down because they mistakenly believe that’s what will save everyone. In the end, we all starve to death. Our role as believers isn’t to wallow in brokenness together. The Bible tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) because that is the rhythm of life in a fallen world. In the in-between times, are we called to “encourage one another and build each other up” (I Thessalonians 5:11), and to “pursue holiness” (Hebrews 12:14). Walk it out, work through it, process it… with Jesus, with fellow believers and friends, whatever it takes because Christian, you are no longer a slave, but God’s child (Galatians 4:7). God’s children do not sit and bask in brokenness.

Desiring wholeness (not perfection) is fantastically, amazingly and entirely AUTHENTIC. God loves and honors the broken spirit, He acknowledges it and would never despise or turn His back on our condition (Psalm 51:17). Nobody wants a phony polyester kind of faith, and God Himself does not desire that for His children. He calls us UP and OUT of the dust, the mess, the sin and INTO a beautiful life. We don’t have to muddle through, we can indeed be restored. God uses the broken things, sometimes extremely powerfully to make us who we are. Lets not, however, fall into the trap of believing that this is the only true path to anything good or authentic.

Christian Leaders Who Drift and a God who Never Will…

It’s been a week filled with all kinds of hoopla in Christian blogger-land. I believe the issue is much bigger than the players involved, so I’ll stick to the bare facts for starters. On one side, we have an ultra popular Christian author for (Jen Hatmaker) who came out on her blog in support of traditional marriage last year but has since deleted said post and apparently done some rethinking. She did an interview affirming her support for gay unions, and lamenting the Christian church’s response to them as a whole, not being inclusive enough, etc. Not surprisingly, she got called out. Lifeway dropped her books. Other Christian bloggers countered her arguments. And it takes off from there.  I really want to address the bigger issue of what is happening right now which is the idea of Christian compromise. Is it the crazy election year that seems to have brought all this bubbling to the surface? Perhaps. As the world demands more “tolerance” out of believing Christians, the shake up is inevitable. The days of just drifting by are coming to an end. Christians are either standing up or walking away – those really are the only two choices. Can we stand up for truth and not be hateful? Yes. It’s not up to us if the world receives the message or not, but it is not hateful to disagree, it is sometimes necessary.

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” DA Carson

Like a steady rain shower, the slow but relentless stream of compromise is eroding our very foundations. What started out as well-intentioned tolerance has become full-fledged spiritual dilution. We’ve been told our beliefs are passé at best, hateful and bigoted at worst, so we stop. We quit speaking truth in love. Attacked from every side, we cave. Not because we don’t love God or desire to be a light for Him, we simply don’t value His word above the worlds voice. Period. The truth seems harsh. God’s way is confusing to a world so given over to selfishness and sin. It requires surrender.

I’ve read enough of Jen Hatmakers books and blogs to know that she has a heart to help people who are hurting. She has a magnetic wit and humor and compassion for people that most of us wish we could muster up. Thats a calling.

Here’s the inevitable “but”… When we live man-centered instead of Christ-centered, we are bound to go down the road of compromise. Well-meaning Christians can empathize to the point where they actually take on everyones burden. Instead of walking along side someone and directing them OUT of their sin (through prayer and God’s Word), it’s more acceptable (and easier) to SIT DOWN with them in the midst of it and embrace it for what it is, accepting it and sometimes even celebrating it.

Timothy warned us of this compromise saying many would come who “have the appearance of godliness, but denying it’s power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) People who claim Christ but deny His power to do anything to really help the situation. The logical conclusion to that thinking is to just embrace the sin and compromise your once held beliefs.

This isn’t just about Jen Hatmaker or about the gay rights debate. This is about how we as Christians deal with sin and compromise. It’s increasingly difficult to reconcile what God’s Word says with a world so diametrically opposed to Him. Every time we compromise some of His truth to fit the world’s ever-changing idea of what is acceptable, it gets more fuzzy. Suddenly, here we are. Well-respected Christian authors and leaders jumping ship and changing their tune to the dismay of some, and the relief of others.

When we don’t abide in God’s Word, the world comes to abide inside us, and the world is hostile to Jesus. We drift. We absorb whatever comes at us. We seek out other truths. As crazy as it sounds, we begin to embrace the world’s sin and question whether Jesus really meant what He said.

We don’t need to smooth out the gospel for anyone. We also shouldn’t ever put so much stock in one human beings opinions and writings as to be totally knocked over when/if they stumble.

Perhaps the Jen Hatmaker ‘debacle’ of this week can teach us at least this – we are all human and susceptible to drifting towards all kinds of idolotry when Jesus isn’t in His proper place in our hearts and lives. This world (and modern progressive Christianity) will squeeze us dry if we let it. We must thirst for the Truth and understand that “God does not lower His standards to accommodate us. He will not tolerate a compromise of character” (RC Sproul). Jesus said it is the TRUTH that sets people free, and I think He meant it. Like a plant that isn’t getting enough water or sunlight, we suffocate under compromise and watered-down Christianity.

 

Friends, we are called to be salt and light. Truly knowing God and His character leads us to desire holiness. Real love never rejoices in sin but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Don’t be rendered passive, church. Compromise can be seen a mile away if we are rooted and grounded in Jesus and His Word. Never allow anyone’s words to have more power over you than those spoken by the One who created you.

A Blazingly Holy Life

IMG_1790“Do I believe I need to be holy? Do I believe that God can come into me and make me holy? If, through your preaching, you convince me that I am unholy, I then resent your preaching. The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it is designed to reveal my unholiness, but it also awakens an intense yearning and desire within me. God has only one intended destiny for mankind – holiness. Oswald Chambers

Holiness – does the idea that we are created for this awaken resentment in us or does it encourage us to press in even harder to Jesus? What makes some resentful while some hopeful?

The reality of who WE are – sinful, struggling, imperfect – forces us to accept we will never be very good, much less HOLY. It’s an impossible goal. The heart resents what it can’t achieve. The law is impossible to fulfill. People stop here in resignation.

The reality of who CHRIST is – relational, forgiving, perfect in love – allows us to run to Him (in spite of our shortcomings) and enjoy the freedom of our salvation. He fulfilled the law, and we are free to be holy, not because of anything we do or don’t do, but because of the fact that we are saved through our faith.

I think the reason people become resentful and give up is because we’ve equated “holiness” with “sainthood”. Doing good deeds. Never feeling tempted. Never failing or struggling. For those on the outside looking in, this kind of Christianity  doesn’t seem possible or attractive.

“Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also…” Matthew 23:26

Jesus went straight to the heart. He wants us to understand that what goes on inside will naturally be made known on the outside.

What if we just exuded “holiness” as a natural result of abiding with Christ? We aren’t saved because we’re holy. We are holy because we are saved. It’s a by-product of our relationship with Him. We are saved based on our faith in Jesus.

What a gift! Just to embrace the ‘new man’ that God created us to be and the gifts we receive when we put our faith in Him. How I wish people could see this in us more. It isn’t about performing or doing. It’s about receiving!

The world needs to see the joy in true holiness. It’s a fruit of our salvation, not some unattainable, dull state of being that only a few are able to reach. If we are saved through faith in Jesus, we are destined to be holy. We are made to be holy. Not perfect, but holy. Set apart.

If we are authentic, this will flow out of us like water in a fountain.

“We are saved and sanctified for God, not to be specimens in His showroom, but for God to do with us even as He did with Jesus, make us broken bread and poured-out wine as He chooses. That is the test – not spiritual fireworks or hysterics, not fanaticism, but a blazingly holy life that confronts the horror of the world with a fierce purity…” Oswald Chambers

Confront the world with a blazingly holy life. Even as broken bread and poured out wine. It isn’t unattainable or set aside for perfect saints. Confront the world with a fierce purity and natural holiness – that’s how we will make a difference in a dark world.