Thursday, September 24, 2015

Holiness Stuff

 photo newstead-abbey_zpswxvuam9m.jpg

Jewel and I are studying the Middle Ages.  We were discussing the rise of monasteries and how they were crucial to the development of books (especially written Scripture).  One of the questions that the text asked was, "Would you have wanted to live in a monastery?" I was expecting a negative answer, especially in light of the fact that this is my child that loves sleep more than anything. She could never have managed a 4AM prayer call. But I wasn't expecting,
"No, I don't like all that Holiness stuff."

She quickly added, "I like God and all but all that other stuff--praying at certain times and giving up so much, that's not what I want."

I smiled at the "giving up so much." And yet...

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:34-38

In a recent training session at church we were challenged that our job was to 'make disciples that make disciples.' The trainer asked why we are hesitant to say upfront to someone who is exploring Jesus' call that part of discipleship is to in turn tell others and help them become more like Jesus. It seems that we mostly focus on the 'getting saved' bit and not on the 'following' bit. The discussion that ensued was about wanting people to stay and if it sounds hard maybe they won't, that we ourselves don't necessarily spend enough time considering the cost of discipleship and that we don't want to make the gospel sound work-based. All of the discussion was good. I learned much from listening to the others. But I kept hearing Jewel's words, "I don't like all that Holiness stuff." I think, for me, the gist of the matter is that "I don't like all that holiness stuff"--I don't like thinking I have to give up anything to be a follower of Christ. As I wrote on Tuesday, the ungodliness of not even considering God as a part of my day creeps in and consumes.

I'm not talking about 4AM prayer calls, (or 9AM, or noon or 6PM). I'm not talking about regulating and scheduling God. Nor I am saying that it depends on certain works, or a certain translation of the Bible or morning devotion, or telling a specified number of people the 'good news' each week, or any of the other things we might equate to holiness or discipleship. I'm talking about actually living my life, every day, like I am a follower of Jesus Christ. It is about not losing him in the busyness of life. It is about finding godliness by seeking him in every situation. Even when that means missing out on something. But mostly, it is about others being able to look at my life and see that God is at the center and that he does make a difference. It is about being willing to count the cost and accept the cost. I want my life to be totally oriented on God, whenever and however he leads.

I guess I want to "like that holiness stuff." I want to be a disciple. And my prayer is that ultimately that will help those around me also be disciples, who help those around them be disciples.

Father forgive me when I don't want your holiness. Forgive me when the earthliness and humanness of my day cause me to ignore your call to be godly. Help me to seek you first. Help me to be a disciple willing to count the cost. Help me to then influence and encourage others to be your disciples as well. Let me be the center of a spiral of disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Help me be part of loving your people and changing my world for your sake and glory. Amen.

photo taken at Newstead Abbey, April 2014, please do not copy

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