Monday, March 5, 2007

Holiness is under-rated.

Olivia has been blogging some great reasons for being Holy. Steve Court suggests that holiness is the solution to every problem. (they should write a book about it!)
But, holiness has fallen out of fashion in the last few years, I wonder why?
Some suggest it's the word itself (conjurs up notions of old men yelling about hell and assigning women to domestic servitude) others seem to think it's that we live in Sodom (depth of sexual depravity) - SO, holiness just doesn't seem like a real option. I remember watching my husband give an unashamed, biblical pitch for holiness at a Territorial (national for the army beginner) Youth thingy (not the official name), and I stood amazed as dozens of young people came forward and wept for the blessing.

Afterward I was having a discussion (aka: hearing a lecture) with an adult about the 'dangers of preaching holiness'... and they went over a few. The story went: there are many ways to experience God and maybe we should recognize that and let's not set up young people to fail (blah, blah, blah). But the really sad part is that although there are many ways to experience God - holiness is almost never presented to young people as an option. That kills me. I realized that for many of those youth that day it was the first time someone said to them that holiness was even possible. That is a modern day tragedy. Above all things I want to believe that the God who saves is also the God who keeps.

I don't know why I was amazed at the desire of young people to be holy: Understandably, holiness can often turn quickly into a deep seated religion and hard set of rules, but holiness that is about reckless abandon, holy zeal and unrestrained mission - that's attractive. I call it expansive holiness... inside-out, infectious holiness, or Fullness works for me (thanks to JM for living the dream!).

This whole thing reminds me of the time I coached a high school basketball team. We went on road trips to get some competitive games and when on the road trip (often saturdays) I'd do some preach prep. by asking the girls what they thought of the scripture I was reading. One easter weekend I read the story of Christ's death. The responses of the girls convicted me. They asked why Jesus had to die? Did he rise from the dead? Why would God let that happen? etc...
in other words, it quickly dawned on me that they had never heard the gospel. And this is the rub: I assumed I was dealing with a youth culture that had rejected Christ, when clearly I was dealing with people who had never heard of him. I think the same exact thing may be true about holiness. Let's start an Uprising...



"But the really sad part is that although there are many ways to experience God - holiness is almost never presented to young people as an option."

I agree with that, I'm 25 and haven't heard holiness preached much at all (except in books and from a friend who's a mega-holiness advocate).

Lately I've been really struggling with the way Salvo's deal with the Holy Spirit. Over here in Aus, I feel sometimes that little room is made for the Holy Spirit to move. Or in a meeting, 'milk' challenges are offered to people desperately in need of some real meat...

Its not just the "experience" of the Holy Spirit that I'm talkin' about here, its that deep connection with God, the Spirit's heart in place of ours (and all that comes with it... passion for the lost, pain for the hurting, love for the unlovable, holiness alive in us).

"Its fire we want, for fire we plead... send the fire!" I choose to be a Salvo because of what we stand for - war to the teeth for the salvation of souls (can't remember who said that.. Boothy?). We need the fire of the Holy Spirit to truly live up to our mission...

We're fighters... without holiness, we can't expect for the enemy to take us seriously!

As a movement, we have a radical message to bring to the world, but if we can't bring it to ourselves first (as the Salvation Army), how can we ever expect to be fully consumed by it? or truly be an "Army" with a united purpose?

'Preach it' to the church...
'Live it' to the people...

armybarmy said...

Great points!
The other problem is that justice without holiness (aka love) burns us out and makes us angry... that isn't attractive either... so holiness and justice are deep spiritual friends.
let's fix it - spread the word... holiness is back.

Anonymous said...

I still remember Christ drawing me unto himself and that day I met Him in August, 1994. The moment I met Him I just felt it - there is more.

It's like Booth's sermon on the Holy Mountain. I can feel God urging me to climb higher. Leave a little bit more of self behind. Leave a little bit more of sin behind. C'mon and climb higher.

Its powerful stuff. The power of the message we preach is that there is more to this life than to live at the moment of salvation. Its about exceeding joy and purpose as we run the race and draw nearer to the finish line. Purpose and joy beyond measure - that we can make a difference for Christ Jesus.

Lead me higher up the mountain,
give me fellowship with Thee,
in the light I see the fountain,
and the blood it cleanses me.

God has so much in store for those who would follow Him - but the key is holiness. May we be an Army who writes "holiness unto th Lord" on our hearts and souls.

God bless. Great Post.

a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victory of the People said...

its true. i didnt even have holiness taught to me as even an option of living until i was nearly 20.
serioulsly only 10% of my life has been with some understanding of holiness and even less then that trying to live a holy life.

as far as the holiness/justice thing...can we call holiness righteouness? and if so then often the hebrew word for justice is the same word for rightousness, or holiness, so really they are the same.

i would even go out on a limb and suggest if you arent living to see justice come, you wont be able to live in holiness either.


armybarmy said...

yeah... I often think that justice is just love turned outward... and holiness is love turned upward.
If that makes any sense.
Great thoughts on holiness guys.
What do you think we can do to correct the problem of holiness not being preached?

Victory of the People said...

live it.
it might be the only way.

Andrew said...

Yeah I agree with Nicole.. living it would have to be key.. you guys are a perfect example of this...