Why He Came: Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The second thing that Christ told believers is that they ought to be a light. And light is provided for two reasons.
1) for illumination and
2) for direction.
The life that we are living is supposed to illuminate this world and point people to Jesus. And if we are being light then we will annoy some people because the dark doesn’t look bad until a little light disturbs it. And have you noticed just how little light it takes to chase away the darkness? A single candle can destroy the darkness in the darkest room. And Christ came so that we could live a life that makes a difference.
But there’s still a third gift waiting to be unwrapped. Now some people opened the first two and they are content, they aren’t really interested in what is in the third package. I think they know what’s in it, but they’d prefer not to open it. So you see, He came so that we could have eternal life and an abundant life, but also--He Came So We Could Have a Holy Life.
Now up to this point, everyone has been with me because those are nice things. Everyone one wants to have eternal life and most of us like the concept of making a difference in the world around us, but how many of us want to live a Holy Life? As a matter of fact what images come to mind when I use the word holy. Do you immediately think of Mother Theresa or John Wesley or one of the writers of the Gospels? When I say holy, do “you” come to mind? You should because we are called to live a holy life. Listen to 2 Timothy 1:9:“It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began—to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus.” And in Colossians 3:12 Paul writes: “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
But what does it mean to be holy? When I tell you that you are supposed to be “holy people,” do you cringe or get angry? Do you wonder how you can live an abundant life and at the same time live a holy life? Does your definition of holiness automatically eliminate any enjoyment you might get out of life; does it mean you can’t have any fun? Some people think you can tell who is holy by the sour look on their face. To them, holiness means that you look like you’ve been sucking sour lemons. But is that what leading a holy life is about? Does it mean that we dress in dark clothes, and never smile?
When I attended an Assembly of God church in Kansas City, Kansas, we had a pastor in his late sixties, which seemed quite old then but doesn’t seem all that old now. And he preached a lot about not going to movies or dances or playing cards? Is that what leading a holy life is about? What we don’t do?
One day as Jesus was teaching, a religious leader came to him and asked what the greatest commandment was in His opinion. Jesus’ reply is given in Mark 12:30 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” You see holiness isn’t about rules it’s about relationship, our relationship with God.
Are there things in your life that stand in the way of your relationship with God? Chuck Colson in his book Loving God makes this statement “Holiness is the everyday business of every Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and the things we do, hour by hour, day by day.” Or simply put, holiness is wholeness, the whole of Christ in the whole of your life.
But how do we know what decisions to make, what things to do? Well, we do have the book. And the short answer is to ask ourselves. “Would what I’m doing honor God?” I read this piece of advice in a sermon by a “good” preacher: “When I became a Christian my Dad offered me a couple of pieces of advice, one of them was this, “All kinds of people will have all kinds of suggestions for what you can do and can’t do as a Christian. Here’s a simple guideline, ask yourself: would I do this with Jesus?”
Have you ever been watching a television program or a video and one of your kids walked in and you felt a little bit ashamed or embarrassed by what you were watching? Have you ever done anything that if the pastor happened along you wouldn’t want your pastor to see what it was that you were doing? Would you mind if he happened by while you were picking out a video at Blockbuster?
What if Jesus called and said he was coming to your house for a couple of days? Would you have to scurry about checking to see what magazines were on the coffee table, what videos were next to the television? If he asked to use your computer and internet to go online to check his email would you worry that he’d look in your history folder? Would he appreciate the joke that you told the other day, you know that funny slightly off-color story your friends laughed at?
There was a time not that long ago, that the church frowned on people going to movies, and then we kind of relented because after all, what was wrong with being able to go to a G or PG movie. Probably nothing, but that isn’t what we limit ourselves to is it. I know I’ve gone from preaching to meddling, oh well.
I’m not positive it was Billy Graham but I think it was Billy Graham who said, “I watch programs on television now that I wouldn’t have dreamed of watching 20 years ago.” And I would suspect that Billy is not alone. But some people say, “Well if I’m going to relate to the unchurched I have to know what they are watching.” Stop it. There is a term in computer usage that is GIGO, Garbage in, Garbage out. I’m preaching to Tom right now because. all too often, I find myself justifying what I’m watching on television or a movie I’m at, and I know that deep down in my heart that I wouldn’t watch it with Jesus and I know it’s wrong.
I read once that the last part of your body that got saved was your right foot, which of course was in reference to our driving habits. I think the last thing that gets saved in our house is the remote control for our TVs. When something comes on that you ought not to be watching, change the channel, or if it’s on a tape hit the button that says stop eject.
You might be saying “Tom, Tom, Tom, Holiness is not externals, let’s not become legalists.” I’m not talking about becoming legalists; I’m talking about pleasing God. Because we never want to lose sight of Hebrews 12:14: “Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”
Socrates wasn’t a preacher but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “It is not living that is important, but living rightly.” And no, it’s not easy to lead a holy life, if it was everybody would be doing it. But it is what God is looking for his children to do. And a holy lifestyle isn’t cultivated by what you don’t do; it’s cultivated by what you do. It’s when you spend more time with God in prayer, and spend more time reading His word that you know what pleases him and what doesn’t.
As you become more like Christ you won’t have to ask yourself “what would Jesus do?” because you’ll just know. So where are you at? Which of the gifts that Jesus came to give have you unwrapped? I hope everyone here has opened the gift of eternal life. But that isn’t enough, you also need to open the gift of abundant life and make a difference in the world around you.
And finally, don’t forget to open the gift of a holy life a life that glorifies and brings pleasure to God. He’s already given you the gifts, now it’s up to you to unwrap them.