Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Holiness & Grace

I'm a holiness preacher at heart. A holiness preacher...according to my definition...calls people to obey God at all costs - even to their own detriment. I'm also a grace preacher. I believe that when we fail to obey God he is always there to accept us, cleanse us, lift us up and send us back on our way. In my mind, there's no conflict. These two attributes of God work like 'hand in glove'. But I'm afraid many people don't appreciate this balance. I'm afraid that obedience is seen as harsh and unreasonable. Doesn't God want me to be happy? Why can't he simply forgive me? Why does he ask me to change? Doesn't he know my situation - how hard it is - how impossible obedience is? Can't he understand and just let it go?

Our greatest happiness comes when we are walking in sync with God. Jesus called this "abiding". He said "If you abide in Me I will abide in you." Paul called it "walking after the Spirit". When we honor God through our obedience we are ultimately honoring ourselves. We are treating ourselves with the most respect and dignity. It's just one of the many paradoxes of the Kingdom of God. But when we seek to please ourselves we ultimately undermine our happiness because any life with "self" at the center will lead to futility, despair and ultimately destruction.

As I turn the corner on my series "Let's Get Personal" - the issues at hand get very hard. When confronted with what the Bible/Jesus says about money, divorce and sex the call to obedience often requires great sacrifice - a great forsaking of personal agendas. It requires "standing naked" with your sin and weakness and seeing your failures for what they are. It requires owning them- yet receiving God's love/forgiveness and choosing to obey again in spite of your mistakes. This is the essence of worship.

That's why I wanted to "get personal". I wanted people to see that following Jesus isn't about singing cool songs and feeling warm and fuzzy. It means choosing God's way in the face of the screams of both the world and their own desires. It means walking away from the crowd and being willing to stand alone. I hope you are one who is willing to recklessly pursue God no matter what the personal cost.

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