Monday, October 15, 2012

Every. Single. Day.

"No one stumbles into holiness." 

I've heard this phrase so often and from so many different sources recently that I'm not even sure to whom I should attribute credit for the original statement, so I apologize to that person. My intent here is certainly not to plagiarize, but rather to bring attention to this combination of words that I am so grateful for.

What an incredibly true statement! And what a needed reminder. Holiness doesn't happen randomly or by accident. None of us will ever aimlessly wander into it and wake up one morning surprised to be fully sanctified. It simply doesn't work that way. I couldn't agree more with the original statement, and in an effort not to diminish the truth therein but to emphasize it further, I would even add that no one accidentally remains in holiness. Whatever challenge we might have overcome today doesn't guarantee for one second that we won't face the same one tomorrow. We don't master one category at a time, earn a certificate, move on, and never look back. The pursuit of holiness is not a video game that locks us in at whatever level we recently beat and keeps us there until we're ready to face the next challenge. The pursuit of holiness is an all day, every day journey for so many reasons.

Here are just a few--

Our natural human heart settings are permanently locked on sinner. Immediately after this, let me say THANK GOD for grace! Please hear me. Oh, thank you, Jesus, for your gift of daily moment-by-moment grace. The gift of grace is freely given to us over and over again through the finished work of Christ, but this is precisely because we so desperately need it over and over again. We are sinners. Every day, all day long. We will never "grow out of it" by chance. We must deliberately pursue our own sanctification as direct combat against our natural inclinations. (Philippians 2:12)

The struggles and challenges of this world don't wait for us. We are not entrenched in a video game that waits for us to click "go" or "start" or "level up" between each challenge. Not only do struggles and challenges fall upon us (or sometimes even feel like they're attacking us) without our permission and whether or not we have declared we're "ready", many times they do so all at once. We don't get to sign up for them one at a time in an organized manner and wait until we're prepared to do so. Rather, we must prepare daily so that "ready" becomes our constant state. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Satan is brilliant and tricky, and he certainly isn't a fan of holiness. This seems like such an obvious statement, and yet I fear that most of us don't treat it as true most of the time. What I mean is that we don't guard our hearts and minds as though they are constantly being tampered with. Oh, but they are. And while the attempts at discouraging our pursuit of holiness occasionally may be overt and obvious, more often than not, they are subtle and attractive and oh-so-effective at lulling us right to sleep in the midst of our journey. Satan is smart enough to know that most of us won't jump at the chance to murder someone or rob a bank or build a huge golden calf in our front yard. But how often does he convince us to put off our Bible study just one more day or gossip share our concerns about a friend we're worried about? How many times do we allow our minds to drift toward self-righteousness or pride or selfishness or lust? Each one a small victory for our crafty enemy. And he knows it. And the only way to battle against him is through a deliberate approach to taking captive every thought. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) If we are to pursue holiness, we must do so with an active, engaged mind.

Certainly we will fail repeatedly no matter how hard we try. But each attempt at deliberate pursuit of Christ is a victory unto itself. The desire alone is not natural for the unregenerate heart, so even if we just "want to" be holy and haven't done a thing about it yet, we have taken at least one step in the right direction. And what an encouragement to know that God has promised he will not leave us unfinished and incomplete. (Philippians 1:6) He will give us the grace we need to pursue the holiness we long for.

Beth Moore says it well in her recently published study of James:

"James wrote for people serving actively, openly, and humbly right in [the world's] thick, pungent pollution. So, how on earth do we serve in it without smelling like it? With serious discipline and determination, that's how. With courage and deep conviction. With a large daily dose of the Holy Ghost, as my girlfriend says. You don't live this kind of life accidentally. You make up your mind who you want to be and daily die to the rest. You surrender yourself to living in the tension where you'll always be stretched and often be broken. Religion pure and undefiled is grit without the grime. You accept that far easier ways to live exist, but you were born for nothing less. And when we sniff ourselves and smell the world, we run to the One who can wash us."

1 comment:

Tracy Gedicks said...

Just read this for the first time. Right on Sister! Mark cover this area Sunday trying to get home we need Jesus everyday! So well covered and shared. God has blessed both you and Jared with precious insight and wisdom!