As I said in my post yesterday, doing construction gives me a lot of time to think. Today I was thinking about what is central to the faith. I don't claim to have gotten some revelation, but I feel like God was messing with me. I was thinking about what I would be willing to break fellowship with a person over. I became convinced that a lack of commitment to holiness would be one of the first things I would break fellowship over. I would break fellowship over the issue of holiness before a lot of other theological issues that I also feel strongly about.
Holiness is central and many Christians have forgotten it or just don't want to deal with it.
I think that the only kind of Christian there can be is a radical Christian. Anything less and I think a person is risking, "Lord, Lord, did we not prohesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.'" Do we not believe that the road is narrow leading to salvation? Have we forgotten "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Anyone who is not seeking utter obedience to God is condemned by Christ's words, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." What was Christ's teaching on sin? To the woman caught in adultery he said, "leave your life of sin." He says the same thing to all of us. Do we love him enough to do it?
Is this holiness easy? Do we just get saved and have no desire to sin? Perhaps some have experienced entire sanctification at conversion but most do not. So what does this mean? It means that the Christian life is a constant battle against the flesh. It means that there are things in us, things that seem to be central to who we are that must be renounced and rejected in obedience to and trust in God. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Self-denial, cross bearing - not things that feel good but things we MUST do to follow Christ. There is no other way. These are the basic values that liberal "christians" utterly reject and that many other true Christians try to ignore.
We must also trust that it is out of God's love that he calls us to this holiness. If God becomes our portion, that is, if we truely experience the Presence of God in this life then I think that all the things we are called to leave behind will appear weak and ugly compared to what we gain in God.
Did Jesus' death and resurrection free us from needing to be holy or did they allow us to become holy? On a plaque outside of the chapel at Asbury College is written, "Salvation For All Men From All Sin." I believe it. Christ frees us from sin. That is what he calls us to. He didn't just die to give us a ticket to heaven. Heaven can begin now and there is no sin in heaven. 1st John 3:4-6 says, "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."