Thursday, 3 April 2014

Lent: Pursuing Holiness

It's something we forget to do too often.

We rush in our Christian walk to Faith and Hope. We expect Love to abound from us in huge dollops like syrup onto pancakes. We look for signs and wonders.

We wait.

And wait.

Then we quit.

We quit without ever seeing the fulness of what God has for us often. The richness of the deep relationship He longs to have with us gets missed and replaced with duty and obligation. Routine replaces passion and we die slowly as our life is sapped from us one day at a time. Salvation becomes a "for later" concept - even for many Christians - which beckons to a full life to come, but we have to put up with what we have right now until we die. Life is hard, then we die. It's become almost a catchphrase for the church (note small "c") without being specifically used.

But why do we have the traumas we struggle with? What prevents us from entering into the full relationship Christ died to win for us?

Holiness. Rather our lack of it.

We've lost sight of our holiness in the muddle of worldliness we exist in the middle of. Paul writes to the "Saints" in each area, and we long for that acknowledgement of us. But we have the bumper-sticker mentality of being "sinner saved by grace" instead of "Beloved Child". The mentality crept in that we were "saved" by Jesus, but then James's words got twisted when he wrote about faith without works being dead, and having works. Somewhere down the line it got understood and then taught as being salvation because of the works performed, rather than the works being performed as a mark of salvation in us.

Salvation by works is futile and fruitless. It is also impossible. We can do nothing in our own strength to make us worthy of God. Even the faith to believe in Him comes from Him!

So how do an unholy people commune and build a relationship with a Holy God?

The answer is simple: they don't. They need; no - We need a representative as Holy as God to be able to stand in our place. Enter Jesus.

Jesus as man was purely human. He was fully human in a way we cannot be outside Him. He was made, as the Hymnwriter John Henry Newman describes Him in his hymn "Praise to the Holiest in the Height", as 
"A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came"
 An incredibly accurate description of Jesus. Our rescuer - even though we didn't realise we needed rescuing - in a fight we didn't realise we were battling. We were being fought over long before we recognised it.

Adam was a perfect man. Fully human in a way only Jesus has been since. Adam's blood condemns us. Jesus's Blood liberates us.

Because of the Holiness of Jesus.

John Eldredge has written an entire book on the subject of "The Utter Relief of Holiness" where he addresses in far more detail than I can in this entry how - in detail - Holiness is what we were created for.

But we need to pursue it. Relentlessly. Unceasingly.

We must be completely single minded in our pursuit of the Holiness of Jesus. Out of it comes a deeper relationship with a Holy God who desires our company so much He chose to become Sin for us.

So continuing the Lent theme of giving things up, let's give up quitting. Let's give up turning our backs on the pursuit of Holiness and drink deeply from the suppy Jesus taps us into.

Pursue Him the way He pursued us.

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