We live in a world today where so much happens to influence who we are that, in turn, we are no longer living as the individuals God created, but a society that is deeply confused. Christians, we are confused just like the world. We stand for Christ in name but our behaviors say differently. Our words speak differently. Our lives tell a different story. I say this in love but also conviction because I am completely guilty of the same.
I so badly want to live my life as a voice for the Gospel as someone who has been changed by Jesus Christ. Yet I find myself in a constant struggle against self. I absolutely, fundamentally believe in God. I believe in Creation and I know that we have sin. I believe that to make up for the sin in our lives, a consequence followed, to which Christ paid. I believe it is through Jesus Christ alone that I find peace and redemption and restoration. I believe that God’s way is best. I believe that God wants more for us than we could ever know and that He writes better stories for us than ones we could write for ourselves. But I also believe I am complete idiot sometimes. I believe I am a failure other times. I believe that I make some deeply wounding mistakes and damaging choices.
You see, if we say we believe in God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then shouldn’t we live in such a way that honors him? Shouldn’t we want to live in a way that gives thanks to the one who paid for our sin rather than continuing to live in it? This is the human holiness struggle.
What is holiness? When Jesus died for us, he also rose again. Its why we celebrate Easter. The Bible may seem like a disconnected book of stories but instead it is actually a book of a collective of stories that reveal God’s heart and design for us through Jesus and the Israelite people. God loved us so much that he wanted to show us his love, rather than make us love, so that we might have a choice to choose to love him or not. Holiness is our way of, through our life, attempting to live like Christ did. Holiness is our way of trying to live in such a way that God is honored. It is our way of being set apart from the world and those who haven’t met Christ yet. You see I firmly believe that when we have encountered Christ we cannot be the same as when we first met him. He changes us. He changes hearts. He redeems us. Frees. Breaks us. Heals us. Renews us. We cannot be the same if we have met Jesus. Holiness is the difference.
We might make mistakes. No, we will make mistakes. We will live selfishly at times, falling to whatever cravings we might have. We will be arrogant. We will be sexually tempted. We will mess up. Plain and simple. My mess up might look differently than yours but we both will mess up, sometimes in little things, sometimes in way things that bring painful consequences. But the writers of the Bible knew this struggle. They knew that when they wrote things in the books that we had a God who loved us deeply and a way to make it through. Jesus is the way. The only way.
It may seem like I sidetracked from my original sentences about us basically being just as confused as the world. So many of us Christians, especially today, want so badly to not offend people while simultaneously leading people to Christ, the Savior of our lives who changed us forever. We want people to know him personally like we do, but we don’t want to be legalistic. I am totally guilty of being legalistic- just ask friends of mine, especially from college. Legalistic faith isn’t good because it leaves no room for error and paints a picture of everything in life as black and white. Its just about rules. At the same time, it shouldn’t be thrown out. You see somewhere along the way, a lot of us Christians have wanted so badly to lead people to Jesus by being relevant and cool and engaging that we have actually forgotten that we are also called to be holy. We dislike correction from other believers or being told to change something in our lives. Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples along the path of their lives. To live in such a way that people would see Jesus in them. To make the Gospel known to the world because it is his love that can change us all.
We need to continue to tell the world about Jesus and how amazing he truly is but in the process we can’t look and act like the world.
That has been my problem more than once. I have known that I loved God since February 17, 2001. I have known that God changed my life, that Jesus freed me from so much, and that God had more for me than I could imagine. But I also know that sin is fun and enjoyable and satisfying…for a time. Things that satisfy my flesh, my desires, my emotions, my…MY…my. I have the wrong perspective. If I live my life with my as the focus, then I am terribly misguided. My life is only mine because of Him and my life needs to be a reflection of what he has done. The Bible is very very clear on certain things…on those black and white issues; live as best as you can to abide by those things. This is where legalism isn’t necessarily bad. Some things are black and white. Don’t be a hypocrite. If you say you love God, live according to his Word. On the areas not so specifically mentioned, take it with grace and study to see what God’s Word might say as much as possible and pray to find your peace with the rest. But please do not, DO NOT, cherry-pick the Bible for what you want to be true and ignore the rest. Study and learn the Word. Then do what it says. If in doubt, ask yourself, “does this please God?” Life is hard and there will be plenty of times where we will each make mistakes and fail to sin and selfishness. Don’t just give up because you fail. But keep getting yourself back to God’s Word, in prayer, and live as best as you can every day to reflect God’s love, God’s truth, and live differently in a world that hasn’t met Jesus yet. Strive to be holy. Because maybe, just maybe, through you someone might encounter Jesus.