Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for July 2015 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Love is Holiness

This Sunday we are wrapping up our series, “The Fellowship of Love.” Last Sunday, we looked at holiness. As Nazarenes, this is an important theological concept for us. We believe we are to be holy because God is holy and He called us to a life of holiness.

Leviticus 11:44a reads, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” The apostle Peter reiterates this point in his first letter, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

We tend to lose sight of what it actually means to be holy. We read the verses and agree with them, but fail to see holiness on a daily basis. Author, Scot McKnight, recently wrote about three elements of holiness. I used these points on Sunday because of their simplicity and beauty. I believe these points are important enough for us to look at once again:
We don’t make ourselves holy. God makes us holy.
This point almost seems to contradict the second and third points. The issue is, for many of us, it does contradict. How do you become holy? Well, you abstain from sin. The problem is that abstinence doesn’t equal a relationship with God. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
Holiness means learning to live a life that avoids sin.
Holiness means learning to live a life devoted to God.
The next two points need to stay together. They are separate points– but they are closely intertwined. I find the best way to tackle these points is to look at what I call the ‘Trap of Maximum and Minimum.’ This is a very serious trap that catches us more than most of us would like to admit.

The trap asks two questions-
What’s the maximum sin I can be involved in and still be a Christian?
What’s the minimum I have to do and still be a Christian?

I think we can all agree neither of these questions creates a healthy relationship. Let's make a subtle change to the questions in order to cast it in a new light:

What’s the minimum I have to do and still be married?
Do I really have to spend time with my spouse to be married?
How much of a relationship can I have with someone else and still be faithful to my spouse?

Do these questions make you as uncomfortable as they do me? I read through them and get a weird feeling in my stomach. There is nothing in these questions that build a strong relationship. There is nothing in these questions that make me think, “Now, that’s a good marriage!” If you found yourself asking these questions, you would know your relationship was heading down the wrong road.

Yet, we tend to find ourselves playing this game with our relationship to our Lord. Let's look at the third point, "Holiness means learning to live a life devoted to God." This is a key point.

Only God can make you holy and a life devoted to God means being in the presence of God. I cannot become holy if I am not spending time at the feet of my Lord. It's just that simple.

If I am not in a constant relationship with my Lord, I cannot be shaped into His image. In order to be shaped into His image, there are definitely some things I will have to abstain from doing. Yet, that abstinence is not the goal- life with our Lord is the goal!

Grace and peace,

Pastor John