Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be Ye Holy

So I was just talking with my mom about how we are to live differently from the world.  Several things along these lines have provoked my thinking recently, and I wanted to put them “on paper” here.

I live in Brooklyn, NY.  We have a large population of Orthodox Jewish people.  And no matter where I go in the City, I can tell when a person is Jewish.  It’s evident.  You can tell by their attire.  The men wear black suits with white shirts, and nice hats. I like their hats.  The ladies wear long skirts, stockings, and long sleeves.  Usually it’s just black and white, but sometimes they have a stripe or color in their blouse.  Many people would look and them and say “weird.”  Or “out of style.”  But they identify with their people, unashamed, and they leave no question about who they are.

How about Christians.  Can you spot them a mile away?  Can you instinctively tell when you are talking to another believer?  Sometimes.  But often I am blown away in surprise when someone tells me they are a Christian {or at least they claim to be a Christian}.

The problem is this.  They wear the same fashion as the world.  And I cannot help but blush in shame at the tight pants, immodest necklines, or short skirts that many professing Christian girls wear in public.  They listen to the same music as the world.  Their Facebook page boasts pictures from last night’s concert or talks about the latest movie they went to see.  They are pumping their minds with the same filth as the world, and any resemblance to the Christ they claim as their own is flooded out.  Overpowered.  Undistinguishable.

Gandhi said this: “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  So sad…but too often so true.

Then today I read Joanna Weaver’s blog post about holiness, and it summed up everything I have been thinking and wanting to say.  {You should read the entire article} She writes:

Holiness. Not a terribly popular word in Christian circles these days.

We’d rather talk about mercy and grace; the forgiveness and tenacious patience of our Father who is “not willing that any should perish.” All wonderful topics and the bedrock of our Christian faith. And yet, if we insist on seeing only a loving God we run the risk of never experiencing the power of a life-changing God.

But to stop at the cross and never enter into His resurrection and a new way of life would be a tragedy. For the same grace that saves us is also the grace that changes us. Sanctifies and purifies us. Sets us apart and makes us holy. Makes us more like Jesus and less like us.

But we have to cooperate with that grace. And therein lies the rub.

To choose holiness means we have to be willing to embrace certain limitations on our freedom. To allow certain restrictions be placed on our lives by the Holy Spirit, though we’re surrounded by others who seem to have no restrictions at all. Bottom line, if we want to be holy, we are going to have to call sin what God calls it. Missing the mark. Disobedience which not only separates us from His heart, but discredits our claims of love.

To be honest, even as I write, I’m convicted of black-and-white areas in my life which have grown gray over the years. Scruples that I used to live by which have slowly become muddied. Certain behaviors and past times I partake of that I had a strong sense of conviction against – a conviction brought by the Holy Spirit not a set of rules and bylaws. Covenantal guidelines that determined what I would watch. What I would read. Activities I would forego simply because I knew they grieved His heart and quenched His Spirit’s work in my life. Forgive me, Lord.

I don’t want to “tolerate through sympathy” with myself “any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.” A call to holiness may not be popular right now but that doesn’t mean it is no longer valid. Though we may have changed our mind about how we should live, God hasn’t.

In my devotions I am working through a book on the Incarnation of Christ.  He was not just a likeness of God in human flesh – He was God.  Claudia Barba says “Jesus Christ, however, is much more than an approximate facsimile of God.  He is the precise, perfect likeness of His Father, reflecting and revealing Him in every way.” 

That’s what I want to be.  Not a Christian in name only, and not just similar to the One I claim as Lord of my life.  I want to live holy, so that it is stands out in crystal clarity to a dark world around me.  I want to be as close to the precise likeness of Christ that I can attain here on earth, reflecting and revealing Him in every way.

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