What is holiness? It is a question I have been pondering for some time now.
I grew up in the Assembly of God Church – part of what history associates with the Holiness Movement. During my youth the church was on the tail end of “camp meetings/and tent revivals.” To some, it was a radical movement. The modern church seems to have lines drawn between the belief of Calvin and that of Wesleyan – and the Assembly of God fell into a branch of Wesleyan that was known as the Wesleyan-Arminian – named after John Wesley and Jacobus Arminius.
Those of us coming up in the faith under that teaching, were taught the importance of being set apart (as Christians), we also were taught that it was possible to fall away from faith.. we didn’t embrace the teaching that once saved, a person was always saved. Yet, inside that teaching we were also taught that we were not “saved by works of righteousness, but by God’s Grace alone.” That all one needed to do was to ask for salvation and then walk in the way of holiness. We believe is healing, speaking in tongues and baptism. In our home one did not miss Sunday morning services, Sunday night services. nor did you miss Wed. night prayer meeting. In my youth, it felt like the religion of no’s. Yet, as I teeter on the fence of mid life, I can see that it isn’t so much about what we “cannot” do, but rather one of what we “chose not to do.”
I miss preachers who are not afraid to talk about heaven and hell, and who boldly discuss the end times – instead of worrying that it might scare or offend. Seems silly that we live in an R rated world, but work so diligently to keep the church PG.
In the 35 plus years since… I have associated myself with a more Calvinistic doctrine, while preferring a more non denominational approach to church – feeling I suppose- that I didn’t really want to follow any one “man’s” teaching, but rather be free to interpret things for myself. During that time, I have come to wonder if we, as a collective church” have done more conforming to the world’s ways, then we have to being a beacon for the world in finding God’s ways. It troubles me.
Certainly, I cannot say that I have lived a holy life. I am not even sure that I could tell anyone what that is exactly. What I do know is, that it isn’t about appearances. It isn’t about judging others. It isn’t about labeling things right or wrong. And, it certainly isn’t about being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.
So what is holiness? some of the things I have been considering are;
a return to honoring the Sabbath – in today’s busy hustle and bustle life, I am easily distracted, by things that keep me from sitting quietly and just listening to the spirit. Even God rested on the 7th day – how argent am I to think that I would not need to do the same, and then whine that I am burned out.
I wonder too if it is about asking God into our day – before the day begins. I have certainly felt on those days when I don’t start my day this way, that the day consumes me, or that it is wasted by insignificant things.Laying down my plans for the day, to be open to his.
I am learning that it is most certainly allowing our lives to be refined enough to love others through a God sized filter. Left to my own abilities, loving others isn’t something that comes easily to me.
I believe it is also being willing to be a conduit of change, and allowing what ever resources we have, to be freely used to shore up the lives of others.
I wonder to, if it involves the things I put into my body. I know that everything we, in today’s world call food, truly is not.. much of it causes disease, and wasn’t created by God for food.. we still eat it and then we cry about how my body is failing me… God gave Israel “laws” to live by.. and while we are no longer under the law – we are told that there is still benefit of the law.
There is no doubt that there needs to be a movement in today’s world. We are confided by LAWs, but have no morals, those in leadership have failed us, once a career of service has become a cesspool for self advancement and corruption.. and “we” – the church- often times look more like the world, than being a beacon from the storm.
As a young girl, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, the church offered me a sanctuary from a life, to hard for my little heart to handle.I didn’t know Jesus then, but I knew a people who were “Jesus” to me, and through their actions, I wanted to know more about Him.
Jesus himself didn’t shy away from the world. Nor from worldly people. But by his very nature they knew he had something that they needed, it drew them out. He didn’t put on a Sunday face, nor live life “holier than tho.” He ate with them, sat with them, walked with them – So we know that holiness isn’t about separating ourselves out…physically..But rather a spiritual “knowing” of who we are in Him and who we belonged to. It isn’t about seeming to be “better” but rather open about what we have been saved from.
I long for revival – a fresh fire of the Holiness Movement. One that refines lives in a way that only God can. And while I admire men like Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley and John Calvin, who asked the hard questions and did their best to define answers that have established rock solid foundations of today’s church, it is only Jesus that can cause true change. – I believe that the spirit still speaks, if we have the courage to ask ourselves the hard questions…
What is Holiness?