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!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Where's the life?

Our God is a burning fire, an infinite heart of love. Capable of more than we can dream or imagine. We can be filled with life abundant, know rivers of life pouring from us. We sing all these things but do we see them happen? And if not, why not - how do we get there, where's the life?

The biggest barrier to us finding the incredible life we *know* is available to us is thinking we've already found it. Those who think they've found stop searching. But we *know* there's so much more.

God feeds the hungry, he satisfies the thirsty. Let's be desperate for God's life, desperate and hungry and thirsty for his life and power in the church. And then we'll find it, gradually.

Do you ever do anything that takes every fibre of your being? I jog for a short distance, a couple of kilometres most days. I like to finish with a sprint and give it everything I've got. Every part of me glows and aches afterwards, I put everything I've got and everything I am into that last run (sometimes). That's how we need to long after God, turn our lives our hearts and desires into him. And the stronger your passion and fierce desire the more of God you'll find. May it never be enough.

Burn fire of God. Heart, mind and will, a sacrifice ascending. Wonderful stuff to sing, but do we really know how to free our entrenched will and bring it all to God? Imagine what people we could be if we did! Burn fire of God, yes please! Let's find out how. And let's do it together. A people on fire and filled with the life of God. A burning, blazing light. A city on a hill. I can't imagine anything better.

And the best thing is God promises it can happen. This isn't my idea, it's not your idea, it's God's. He wants to do it. In fact he *longs* to pour out his life and love amongst us. But he longs for us to want it enough to take it, to take hold of the promises he makes, to take him at his word and push our lives into him. Then we'll find it, that's the promise. Violent men take the kingdom of God by force. By force! It takes strength and will to seize the life and power of God. But it's not a worldly strength, it's a strength open to anyone. But first you have to acknowledge you don't already have it and start searching for it. Where is the life that God promised, where is the power, where is the healing, where are the transformed lives? This isn't it, there's more, so much more. Let's believe God when he says that if we seek we'll find and let's put our whole beings into it. Heart, mind and will a sacrifice ascending.

Doctrine

Does your idea of God conform to your doctrine, and your understanding of the bible, or is your doctrine conformed to your knowledge of God? Because if you claim to be a Christian it really better be the latter.

For too many Christians God is constrained by their understanding of the bible. And that leaves room for only a very small God. This is a theme I'll return to, because the deep tragedy is that the bible can become what keeps you from God rather than pointing you to God.