A Search for Holiness
Throughout the night, the rain soaked us here on the Peninsula in Washington. My second grader Peter and I shot out to the bus stop this morning equipped with our big umbrella and hunkered down. Usually Peter is a bit reluctant to stand near me. He's already getting tool 'cool' for his dad, but today he stood close as the rain pattered overhead. Sometimes other kids try to squish under our umbrella to keep dry as we wait for the yellow school bus with the flying wipers. Sometimes, I forget the umbrella on rainy days. On those days, it doesn't do me, Peter or anyone else any good. With what kind of umbrella has God equipped you to deal the difficulties the day?
With each day some event or another generates some mild or explosive situation that sets me up for trouble. The writer of Hebrews knew we would be soaked to the bone by the troubles and knew we needed help each day, so he prayed for us and asked God on our behalf, "that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" Have you been equipped to handle the trouble in your life?
As a parent and substitute teacher I encounter events that whiplash my patience, test my resolve as a Christian, and thrust me on bent knees to seek forgiveness on a regular basis. Through these events I am given eyes that see my sin and a heart that suffers with Jesus on the cross. These events force a question that affects my understanding of who God is, "Can I ever really be holy in this age? Maybe holiness is only an endowment waiting for us in heaven? Maybe holiness is just for a select few, special, consecrated believers?"
In Matthew, Jesus explains one fact clearly. Each day will have its trouble and you will encounter it. "Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
He also makes it clear that "No one is good—except God alone." So, how do we resolve our unrighteousness with God's command that we "Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God"?
I believe that in and of ourselves, we are evil, as Jesus explains in the story of the rich man.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Yet it must be possible for us to be holy, because God commands us to do just that: "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." Being holy is not only important to our own walk with God, but it's also important for others. We end up providing a wide umbrella to others who are near and even to those who are far.
This Lent I will search through events of my life to find out how to be holy. I will examine the roadblocks that Satan uses to keep me from holiness. I will seek to understand how the breastplate of righteousness (as Paul paints the picture in his letter to the Ephesians) shields not only us from the evil of the day, but also provides a shield to others.