What’s the Point of Being Holy?

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! Luke 15:1-2 NLT 

Companion means someone you eat bread with. “Com” is Latin for “with” and “pan” is
Holiness is in the sanctuary message but the goal is intimacy.Latin for “bread.” So when Jesus was publicly eating with sinners He was publicly declaring them His companions and friends! This infuriated the pharisees, who prided themselves from staying away from sinners. Problem is, their pride also kept them away from Jesus! Jesus knew the only way sinners could ever become holy is if they hung out with Him all the time. Now, what if I told you, that if you are friends with Jesus so that you can be holy that you are missing the whole point? What if I told you Jesus does not want perfection as much as He wants intimacy? Jesus does not befriend sinners so He can make them Holy. He makes them Holy so the friendship can become more intimate.

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.” Exodus 25:8

God doesn’t live among us so He can make us perfect. He perfects our love to make our relationship more intimate. Another key Adventist belief is the second coming, but with the same goal.

I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:3

God wants intimacy with us, and that is why He wants us to be Holy.

For I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45 NLT

What does it mean to be holy? Does it mean living in the attic of a monastery at the top of a mountain? Does it mean only having baptized SDA members as contacts in my Google contacts? Does it mean eating Worthington Veggie Links instead of Hebrew National hot dogs?  Does it mean I only listen to the Heritage Singers and never set my radio dial to a secular station?

The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. –Wikipedia 

If you Google “What does holy mean” you will find answers like “dedicated” and “set apart.” God is not looking for outward perfection. He is looking for inner intimacy. He totally dedicated to us. He is “wholey” dedicated to an intimate relationship with you, and wants you to be “wholey” dedicated to intimacy with Him. This goes back to why Jesus was eating with Sinners. He wanted to be their friends. By being friends with us His removes our unbelief and we trust and obey Him, not to be self righteous but to become even more intimate with Him!

When I was younger I wished I could be righteous like Enoch so I could walk close to God. Then I realized Enoch did not walk close to God because he was righteous. He sensed his weakness and this made him stick close to God. Just like the tax collectors and notorious sinners knew how weak they were, when they ate with Jesus and made themselves companions and friends with Jesus. Jesus wants to make you holy His just like He is Holy yours. He wants to be your friend and companion.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

The Irony of Sympathy

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV

I’ve been told the beatitudes are building blocks to a complete conversion. I find it interesting that after we are filled with God’s righteousness, instead of seeing ourselves as holier than others, we become merciful.

Several nights ago, as I was falling into my bed to go to sleep for the night, I heard a loud crash followed up by a boom! boom! boom! thud! I looked out my window expecting to see another fender bender on the little street outside my home. Instead I saw a broken-down fence and upside-down car on the grass. The man inside the car got out okay. Apparently he made the turn from one residential street to another a little too fast.

Years before I would have thought to myself, what an idiot! How can you have such an accident on a little street, while making a simple maneuver! However that is not what I thought this time. True, he was going too fast, but over the years I have learned the lesson not to make fun of people who make silly mistakes, because just as sure as I do, I will turn around and do something twice as crazy! Instead of making fun of him, or scolding him, the rest of the bystanders and I just made sure he was okay and had what he needed while we waited for help to arrive.

At UPS John, a seminary student, worked with me as a sorter. He was very mild-mannered and never lost it, even in the most stressfull situations. One day our belt was getting overloaded and I asked the unloaders to wait for us to clear the belt before adding any more packages. They did not listen, and more and more packages overloaded the belt. I became angry and said some things I should not have said. I caught myself and told John I felt bad for reacting that way. He assured me that this was a very stressful job, even more so when the unloaders don’t listen to you. He was right, but I marveled that even though he understood and was sympathetic, he still never lost it. He sympathized with me with his words, but he rebuked me like a slap across the face by simply living out a better example! It wasn’t what he said, it was what he did that showed me there was a better way to live.

My pastor once suggested that it is best to be “liberal” towards others and “conservative” towards ourselves. Hold yourself to a higher standard while cutting those around you a little slack.

Jesus is our perfect example in constantly forgiving all those around Him.

Here are some words to live by.Just like Peter, you don’t have to worry about forgiving your friends too many times. No one will ever sin against you more often than you sin against Jesus, and you will never need to forgive anyone as often as Jesus forgives you. I am going to throw in the oldest cliche of all time, just because it fits so perfectly here. “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” To be Christlike we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, while at the same time forgiving those around us. Jesus is the only One who ever lived a perfect life, and while He did so He sympathized with and encouraged sinners.

Often He [Jesus] met those who had drifted under Satan’s control, and who had no power to break from his snare. To such a one, discouraged, sick, tempted, and fallen, Jesus would speak words of tenderest pity, words that were needed and could be understood. Others He met who were fighting a hand-to-hand battle with the adversary of souls. These He encouraged to persevere, assuring them that they would win; for angels of God were on their side, and would give them the victory. Those whom He thus helped were convinced that here was One in whom they could trust with perfect confidence. He would not betray the secrets they poured into His sympathizing ear. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 91-92. 

How ironic that the One who has never sinned would be the most sympathetic and understanding friend a sinner could ever have.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.