Holiness

“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.” – D.A. Carson

The pursuit of holiness is hard work!

For many years, I naively thought that unlike keeping my room clean, getting into shape, doing well in my university courses, or learning how to play a musical instrument, following Christ didn’t take much effort – no blood or sweat; no hours of studying; no years of practice.  Saved by grace right? (Eph 2:8-9)  But then we read a few more verses further and it says that, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)  Recently, I was reminded that being a Christian is all about pursuing holiness – to practice the presence of God in authentic worship every moment of every day.  This is an active process…requiring works…because “faith by itself, if it not accompanied by action, is dead.” (Jam 2:17)

What is authentic worship?  Well, according to Harold Best, worship involves…

“acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared and adored…worship is the sign that that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it.”

Do we truly fear the awesome, living, sovereign God of the universe or are we more afraid of what our friends think of us?  Do we actually adore God?  What does it mean to adore someone?

Valentine’s Day is coming up tomorrow and I considered what we do when we’re in love with someone.  We spend heaps of time together in conversation, we travel with one another, we serve each other, we lavish one another with gifts (just look at this weekend’s Valentine’s Day chocolate and flower sales), we enjoy the highs and endure the lows…an incredible amount of time and effort goes into nurturing a loving relationship.

Are we truly in love with God?  Do we merely claim to love Him or do our actions reflect that as well?  Do we desire to talk to him in prayer, to live in His presence wherever we go, to serve Him in obedience and honour Him with our money and resources (that are totally provided by God to us in the first place)?  This is no easy task but the apostle Peter reminds us, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Pet 1:15-16, NIV)  Those of us who have received the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus have been bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).  We should never forget how Christ’s blood, shed on the cross, paid the price of death for our sins so that all who believe can be made saints for the service of God’s kingdom (Rev 5:9-10).  Here, a ‘saint’ is someone who is ‘sacred, pure & blameless’ in God’s eyes.  As I heard from David Hunt this past week, although we were once sinners, we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ and God now sees us as saints who sometimes sin.  Therefore, the challenge for us is to live our lives worthy of this calling.

“God doesn’t demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know Him more intimately.” – D.A. Carson

Maybe some of you are a bit tired of filling your schedules with all the corporate prayer meetings, Monday night bible talks, CiA/YF/small groups, showing up early on Sunday mornings to usher/setup sound, leaders meetings, leaders retreats, church camps, etc.  Although many of these are important, remember that God wants our love and affection more than simply more time blocked off in our diaries each week. God is glorified primarily in our hearts as we love Him and remain in awe of Him – not just in what we do.  Praying together, studying God’s word together, and serving the church with joy are just some of the ways we can learn to embrace more of Christ’s character as we desire to experience God’s presence and glory in our lives.

“We walk before God simply, in faith, with humility, and with love.  We engage in a continual, silent, affectionate conversation with Our Father.  Out of love for Him, we strive to do nothing and think nothing which may displease God.” – Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God

The pursuit of holiness ain’t easy as we are in a constant struggle between living by the Holy Spirit and living for the flesh.  But I think the apostle Paul got it exactly right when he says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Phil 3:8)

How’s your pursuit going?

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