“Why are you hanging around all the moral riff-raff and the outer fringe people?” That’s what they said in Matthew 9:11-13.
“They’re awfully sick and I’m a doctor!” That’s what Jesus said in Matthew 9:11-13.
That’s holiness! That’s God’s holiness!
That’s God’s holiness flawlessly exhibited in a human life—the life of Jesus of Nazareth who was/is God being a man.
God’s holiness isn’t a stiff-armed moral uprightness.
Whatever “holiness” is unlike His holiness isn’t holiness!
And Christ prayed for me and people like me in John 17:17 and Paul took His prayer seriously in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 when he said that God Himself would make us holy all the way through and because He is faithful who called us and He will do it!
So I’m going to do it! Weak or not, sick or not, stumbling or not, sinful or not, I’m going to finish this adventure; it’s my destiny and calling. I’m not talking about the pursuit of moral uprightness where I check my record against a list of moral imperatives! I’m talking about the pursuit of God’s likeness in Jesus Christ; I’m talking about walking worthy of the God who has called me. I’m not talking about merely “keeping God’s commandments,” I’m talking about coming to know and love Jesus Christ who said if I trust Him to help me that I will be empowered, I will be kept by the power of God through faith (1 Peter 1:5) and that I’ll come to know what it is to be ecstatically happy to do what He calls for. I’m not going to finish this phase of living lying down!
I’m here expressing the hearts of a great host as well as my own. We’re not elite but we are elect!
So I’m not walking away. I’m staying! And I’m not alone in this (how could I be alone?). I’m one of multiplied millions down the years in whose steps I follow and even now I’m in the company of a massive throng of women and men of the same faith and the same heart as mine (2 Timothy 2.22). We’re here for the entire adventure against the powers of darkness that work to destroy us and our hurting & sick human family.
And we’re going to stop comparing ourselves favorably with other fellow-servants in this war. We’re going to help one another buckle on the armor of God (the kind of armor Isaiah said God put on to deliver the oppressed—Isaiah 59:17); the kind the Messiah wore in his work of redemption, judgment and peace-bringing (Isaiah 11:5).
If you see or hear that one of us has fallen and floundered be sure that you keep looking and listening for the story that he or she got back up. By God we’re not staying down. And if it’s me and I disappoint you I won’t have disappointed you as much as I’ve disappointed me. And if your eyelid flickers with that disappointment it won’t be as genuine as God’s is but His Son will come to me and He will help me to my feet again and when He’s done talking to me He’ll help me buckle on the armor He has provided. He won’t do it with a smoldering sulk or an icy coolness. No, it will be with a royal and brotherly concern and passion that is an aspect of His wondrous way that means He won’t allow His servant to give up the fight. “Stand up straight,” He’ll say, “and let me tighten up those gospel shoes.”
This is the holiness of God! It is ethical! It does have that “forbidding” sense attached to it but that’s not the whole story about holiness—it never was! His holiness is the presence of joy, the presence of warmth, brother and sisterhood; it’s the presence of anything that God has given to humans to honorably rejoice in because God would have it so! It’s God-given human well-being enjoyed and exercised in happy well-doing and it’s not confined to the overt “religious” activities.
Holiness has beauty and loveliness as well as strength; it has social expression as well as inner transformation and it shows itself in human loves and human lovers, human acts of kindness, human courage that opposes injustice and in humans who “come to stay.”
So, I’m not going to finish this phase of living lying down!
I won’t do it!
At the end when Death or the Lord comes calling one way or another I’m going to be on my feet rather than lying down. “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!”
We’re not going to do it, are we?! We’re not going to finish this lying down!