Monday, 9 February 2015

On holiness

The Jesus Fellowship "Forward" blog published an article of mine on Holiness:
"As Christians we are called to be holy (as God is holy), but we also know that we can never match up to God’s standard. We can never be holy in our own right, we can only be made holy by Him. This is another manifestation of the paradox at the heart of the gospel[...]"
As Christians we are called to be holy (as God is holy), but we also know that we can never match up to God’s standard. We can never be holy in our own right, we can only be made holy by Him. This is another manifestation of the paradox at the heart of the gospel: we are to be like Jesus, to be perfect in love, but we can’t do it. Only He can!
So what is holiness? Proverbs 9:10 (but read the whole chapter, not just verse ten) contains a wonderful mystery: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. For some people “the fear of the Lord” is an awful oppressive thing. It means being scared of a divine being who will crush you for your sin. That is a tragically terrible misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord. God is holy, God is love. Love burns with a fierce brightness. The only way to approach God is with fear and trembling, simply because if you’re not fearful you haven’t really met with God. But as we discover that we can enter into the brightness and be accepted, be filled, because of what Jesus has done, the fear becomes awe, awe becomes love and love becomes holiness.
Holiness is a love that is utterly without guile or deception, it has no ulterior motive and no need for anything in return. Holiness is a tender, joyful, wonderful love. So we become holy not because of our own efforts, but because as we draw near to God His holiness shines through us. We are holy with His holiness. Unfortunately, in the same way that light shining through a murky window becomes murky itself, our souls dim the light. God’s love through us gets mixed with our agendas, deceits, hurts and fears. God loves through us, but He longs to love so much more.
Thankfully, and unlike light passing through a dirty window, God’s love cleans as it goes. The closer we come to God, the more we let His life shine through us, the more our own selfishness and fears fall away. This is the process of a lifetime.
So how do we become holy as He is holy? By drawing near to God, by being filled with life. We sing about “rivers of living water” inside us, but do we know the reality of this? What an awful tragedy to proclaim that we can be filled with rivers of living water, to know that it’s true, but to never experience it! It’s a promise of God that we can be cleansed, be made holy, be filled with love and bring His love to others. However much we may have tasted it there’s more, so much more.
Jesus promised that those who seek will find. He didn’t promise it would be immediate, or even quick, but He did promise it would happen. It’s a gradual thing partly because we’re so half-hearted in searching for the life of God, but also because it’s the process of seeking that changes us. The ‘kingdom pearl’, the treasure of God’s heart, is a precious thing. We’ll only value it and fight for it if it costs us. Jesus said He would feed the hungry and satisfy the thirsty. That’s the answer – that’s how we find God’s life. We have to hunger and thirst for it. If we really longed for the life of God in us and the church, if when we came together we were desperate for the life of God, what sort of worship would we have together? It would be incredible. But we’re satisfied with what we have, not really daring to believe that there’s more. I promise you there’s so much more.
Let’s long for God together. Let’s push our lives into him. Let’s hold Him to His word, let’s believe that if we seek Him with all our hearts He’ll pour out His love among us more than we could possibly imagine. Let’s seize the kingdom and blaze with light, a people on fire for God.
I dare you!

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