“There is absolutely no power in our human effort to live holy. It is only by His grace. And the result of receiving grace is we get better at living like Christ, which is something we all want, right?” Joyce Meyer
Meyer rhetorically asked the question about living holy like Jesus because she knows (and so do we) the answer is supposed to be yes.
But is it really?
I’m writing this section on holiness, as well as putting the word in the book’s title, all the while wondering if holiness holds much appeal. Is holy living an every day and everywhere thing or do we save it for Sundays, church, and Bible studies? Do we try hard to agree with being holy, but really end up just nodding, then shrugging it off? Have we ever, even once, heard anyone say they’d like to be more holy? Have we ever said it ourselves?
I barely noticed my own aversion to holiness when I slid my Bible underneath a stack of magazines at work because a coworker walked in … except it’s hard to overlook something like that since I’m writing about it. I thought, I don’t want to look like I’m trying to show off how holy I am. I justified my discomfort and named it humility. I’m now thinking it had everything to do with my preoccupation with what others think of me, which isn’t humility at all. It’s pride.
Surely God understands our dilemma of trying hard to fit in with people while also trying hard to fit into our purpose.
“No, He doesn’t understand,” said Erilynne Barnum. “He’s called you to it (holiness) and what He desires is for you to say yes. He’ll handle other people. He really will. He knows how to do that. Our responsibility is to listen to Him and obey.”
Erilynne is known nationally for her Call to Discipleship series on YouTube. The description from her ministry’s website at www.call2disciple.com said, “The Call to Discipleship series is an extensive 2 year study of the Bible committed to providing an opportunity for you to know God’s Word, come into relationship with Jesus Christ, and be transformed in character and conduct by His Holy Spirit.”
Our character and conduct she referred to encompass holiness because we’re guided by and acting like the HOLY Spirit. Our knowledge of God’s Word is about holiness. Our relationship with Jesus is holy too. The overview of her ministry is an overview of holy living and, fortunately for us, she goes into detail in her lessons about carrying it out.
In Year 2, Lesson 8 of her series, she said, “We are called to nothing less than a holy life.”
But … she goes on to say, “We work very hard at trying not to be holy because we think it’s a put off. People won’t like me. I’ll appear too righteous. People will call me self-righteous, a holy roller.”
“So, you see, we are called to live a life that we not only can’t do on our own, but we really don’t want to.”
In the same video, Erilynne tells the story of 14-year-old Mary being given a choice in the Bible, in the first chapter of Luke, to carry and birth Jesus, which made no sense to Mary since she was both unmarried and a virgin. She said yes anyway.
Erilynne is clear that we need a willing spirit like Mary’s so that we live God’s way and He gets the credit. The hope is He also gets a bigger family, which is what we’re here for – to point people to Him and to heaven.
Just like Mary, we have holy choices to make.
Our first is whether to dismiss The Holy Bible as no more than a history book that has little to do with us now or read and apply it to our daily lives like God intended for us to do now.
If we choose the latter, that “yes” leads to more choices. Choices that may not make sense. Choices that don’t fit our agenda. Choices that others may disagree with and judge. Choices that may turn out to be inconvenient, uncomfortable, even painful.
We try wiggling out of God’s holy call by claiming we don’t know what He wants from us. We don’t lie just to Him and anyone who tries to guide us, we lie to ourselves too. We procrastinate and distract ourselves. We create problems and self-destruct. We make excuses and politely excuse ourselves from being holy and from our holy calling.
Leaning into holiness, not running from it, is what God wants from us. So why do we bolt like a horse instead of grazing like a cow?
From an article at HowStuffWorks.com by Kristen Hall-Geisler titled “Why Do We Say ‘Holy Cow’?, she wrote, “The thing is, cows are famously held as holy in Hinduism. They are not gods, and they are not worshipped, but cows are considered sacred.” She goes on to say these gentle creatures give and give and give in the form of milk, dairy products like cheese, and manure for fertilizer.
Holy cow, shouldn’t we at least do as much for people as holy cows do for them?
And that’s why we run …
Sometimes we don’t want to give and give and give. We want to take and take and take. For a while, that seems like a better life because we get a lot and don’t have to give much. However, a self-centered life catches up with all of us. There are always consequences – good ones and bad. Positive and negative. Holy and unholy.
I know all about making the choice, not the holy one, because I’ve said not now, maybe tomorrow, and probably next year to writing this book. I’ve said I’m too tired, too sick, too depressed, too busy, too scattered. I’m too inexperienced, distracted, broken, hurt, and lazy. I’m too unmotivated. I’m too old. As it turned out, I became more of what I used as my excuses (more tired, more depressed, more lazy) and less of who God intended for me to be.
I finally sat down and started writing one day, then stopped, then started again, … but every time I said “yes,” I tasted holiness that made writing again a little more appealing until it wasn’t.
Are you picking up on the daily struggle here? We have to choose holiness every single day. If we don’t, we pay a price for poor choices, wasted time, and wrong roads.
Each of us has free will to answer yes or no, but there’s only One choice that makes sense in the end and for eternity – not because God has to be right and win, but because He wants us to be right there with Him forever and He wants us to win over our unholiness that’s nothing but hell on earth. He’ll do a lot of bringing about the right people and circumstances when we finally say yes and mean it, but it’s our affirmative response to holiness that turns the tables for good in our lives.
For God’s sake and for our own, here’s to each of us coming up with the right and holy response to Meyer’s question, “…, being like Jesus is something we all want, right?”
In This Together,
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because the blog posts will eventually be an entire manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. Each blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is one subheading within the chapter. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and suggestions. I’m over-the-top grateful you’re here.