claiming holiness

16 03 2014

Holiness. It’s a bold thing to claim. It sounds all wrong. I think we are so used to it being an insult – holier than thou, Holy Joe, you think you’re so holy – that we spend more time denying holiness than claiming it. Yet the more we deny it, the more we disbelieve it ourselves. The more we disbelieve it, the less we live it. Which is why it ends up sounding so wrong.

Holiness isn’t actually an arrogant claim. Far from it. Claiming holiness is to claim defeat. To announce failure. Because holiness is about what God is doing in me, not what I am doing in me. I don’t make me holy by doing things the world calls holy. Of course I am not holy by what I say or do or live, as proven by what I say and do and live. 

So how am I holy? I am holy by the Holy Spirit living in me, which he does when I admit defeat, when I hold out the chains that bind me to selfishness and arrogance and living without God as the first and ultimate thought of every day; when the Spirit lives in me, he changes me, breaks those chains. Like a light that clears out the darkness. God sees me as holy. Clothes me in holiness.

The Emperors New Clothes though, right? I might be theoretically and theologically holy and becoming holy – it’s called sanctification – but in reality I’m butt naked like everyone else. Right? No. Because living as holy makes a difference to real life. When we know we have the Holy Spirit in us, when we feel and choose to feel his leading and guiding and prompting all day and every day; when even at our lowest and least holy as we struggle with anger or sex or money or porn or lying or self-loathing or whatever it is that proves we are not holy as the world sees holiness – then, that is when holiness kicks in. 

The indwelling of the Spirit shakes off from our hearts the things that would bind us; the shield that extinguishes the burning arrows of the evil one. Our temptations and vices need not have a hold over us. The cycle is broken by repentance and forgiveness. Holiness is coming. Holiness that admits defeat, and yet claims victory through the resurrection power of Jesus. 

Our culture struggles to have the courage to have any convictions. Let us not fall into the same trap. Claim holiness. Be bold. Walk tall. Because when we start there, as those admitting defeat, yet being sanctified by the Spirit and knowing we are holy, we are changed. When we change, the world changes. School, workplace, home, train, bus. Church. The kingdom is revealed. Holiness spreads. That is God’s plan. Be a part of it.

Like the thief nailed beside him I have no other plan
I have placed all my hope in a crucified man
 
 

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10 responses

17 03 2014
Hope

Thank you. Dropped into my inbox at precisely the right moment to speak directly to the heart of my brokenness… now if that isn’t the Holy Spirit at work I don’t know what is…

17 03 2014
Kevin

Thanks Hope – hearing things like that are so encouraging. Glad God spoke to you through it.

17 03 2014
Hope

Encouraging for me too to experience God’s provision like that. 🙂 Challenging too… God looks at me and sees holiness when I look at me and see – well, not holiness, that’s for sure… so whose verdict will I believe? His or my Inner Dobby? (I have a very powerful Inner Dobby… remember Dobby the house-elf? 😀 )

17 03 2014
Kevin

I do remember Dobby… here’s a sock, now be free!

17 03 2014
Hope

If only it were that simple… you’re not my master, so that won’t work… suddenly I’m wondering who/what my master is… who/what it is that keeps me dobby-like and won’t set me free… and what would be the equivalent of the sock…
gosh! suddenly what was a half-jokey comment at the end of my first comment has become deadly serious…
I thought my Master is Jesus – but the depths of my Dobby-ness suggests to me that either I’ve misunderstood Jesus (and I don’t think that’s the case) or I’m giving power to some other, previous master… (almost certainly very early conditioning, which can be challenging to break even when we know it’s unhealthy or even ridiculous).
I’ve been struggling for a long time (but particularly in the past few days) with the _symptoms_ of Dobby-ness, and reacting to them as only Dobby can… whereas actually what is needed is the sock… and that can’t come from Dobby, or be decided by Dobby – but he _does_ have to catch it when offered.

17 03 2014
Hope

sudden enlightenment…
Jesus is the Master who bought me at such cost from my previous master but I tend to live as if my previous master still owned me.
And the sock that sets me free is His very self, God incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended and present in us as the Holy Spirit…
All I need to do is grab that sock and never, ever let it go… and wave it in the face of my old master when he/she comes knocking. I don’t need to know who or what that master is – simply wave that sock and be free because my new Master has set me free.
And in this moment I actually _feel_ free in a way I never have. Oh, I’ve believed it and attempted to live as if it were true… but just for this moment I actually _feel_ it!

17 03 2014
Kevin

I think that metaphor deserves a blog post all of it’s own! I like it…

17 03 2014
Hope

so do I… for very, very personal reasons! You have no idea… and this has all sprung from your original blog… well no, actually this is actually the culmination of a very, very long process which has been going on for 18 months, the final acute phase being just the past couple of days. But without your original blog… well, I’m sure God would have found another way, but I really, _really_ like this way 😀

And just yesterday morning it came to me that maybe, instead of fighting my Inner Dobby, I should befriend her… and I brought her to Jesus… and now look what’s happened!

OK – will you write the blog post or shall I??? I could resurrect my old blog-site…

18 03 2014
Hope

you do it. It requires a degree of objectivity which I can’t bring to it. 🙂

19 06 2014
webstercamino

I really like your observations about focusing on the resurrection rather than the crucifixion, and then you toss in that powerful song Crucified Man by Kendricks. I have toyed with the notion that the cross was not absolutely necessary, only the resurrection….that if Jesus had died of old age the resurrection would have still demonstrated the power of God to restore us. But somehow it is the crucifixion which moves me and makes sense of or at least redeems suffering. It was encounter with the risen one which brought me to faith but it is his sacrifice on the cross that touches me somehow.

As a Canuck, I am not familiar with Dobby. Will you say more about this please?

I also note that your parish is beginning to have an impact on your neighbourhood. You don’t mention your age but I sense that you are a younger priest. As a retiree I have lived through the current implosion of the church and feel that I have somehow failed my Lord. It gives me great hope that the younger clergy are finding new ways in the spirit to share the gospel with a bleeding world. I want to say you give me hope but I know that it is the Spirit working in you who gives me hope. Blessings on your journey and may you continue to be covered in dust!

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