The Holiness That Would Have Hindered Jesus!

 

(A New "Listen Up Moment!" is posted each week on Sermon Seedbed)

The Holiness That Would Have Hindered Jesus!

I have the joy each Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. of gathering at the dining room table in our home with a small group of other men. Every week brings a new adventure for us. We have committed to being transparent with each other–that alone can create an uncomfortable atmosphere, but I have discovered that God does not become uncomfortable just because we are. Not only are we allowed to share a struggle, we usually focus on a particular spiritual theme as well. There is no agenda, no planning, just guys getting together to build relationship. More than once we have stocked the pot with some sort of theological soup. In this environment, my creativity goes wild. As we interact, share, and challenge each other some good stuff will occasionally float to the surface in our discussions. This happened at our last gathering as we discussed the "Church’s" response to people who have sinned and everyone knows about it. I say it that way, because we tend to forget that we all sin and just focus on those who have gotten "caught."  Get ready to be challenged in this little brief! I want to issue a challenging statement and then give it a biblical foundation.

"What much of today’s Church calls "Holiness" would have hindered Jesus from fulfilling God’s purpose for his life."

To put it another way, if Jesus had to follow some of the teaching on Holiness in some of today’s church, he would be disobeying what God told him to do. Yet another try, errant teaching concerning holiness which is being taught in churches today is contrary to God’s Word. Okay, hear me through.

-Jesus started his ministry proclaiming Isaiah 61 (Luke 4) that he had been anointed to bring healing to the broken, bruised, and bound.
-He preached it and then he began walking it out.
-He went out and started doing it.
-In order to bring light to the darkness and hope to the hurting, he went to where they were.
-Once he was with them, he was able to bring his message into their world.
-He clearly taught that he did not come to condemn (minister "with damnation").
-People began being changed and transformed.
-He developed a reputation among the "religious establishment" of being a friend of sinners.
-He hung out where sinners hung out.
-He rubbed shoulders with gluttons, drunkards, harlots, and taxcollectors (Just plug into today’s list and it’s pretty much the same).
-He was accused of standing against the Law and the Prophets (the Scripture).
-He turned water into wine at a wedding for people who had already drank everything in the house.(I have not been given authority to reinterpret the text any other way).
-He met privately in a secluded place with a woman of ill repute, talked with her, shared intimate details about her life with her and even volunteered to drink out of her dipper, all of which was no-no-no in his day. He did this, even though he had told his disciples to go by two."
-He allowed a woman who had recently been in prostitution to wash and massage his feet in a room full of other men.
-He went to the home of a man known for his abuse of authority in extracting people’s money for his own gain and enjoyed a meal with him.
-He allowed a diseased (unclean) woman to touch him and even commended her for her faith.
-He called a taxcollector to be one of his crew as well as a zealot.
-He was willing to be the voice that rescued a woman who had been dragged out of a bed she shared with a man not her husband.
-He told stories that flew in the face of the conventional synagogue teaching of his day, like how a Samaritan could be the best neighbor they could ever have;how a man who had spent his inheritance on wine, women, and song could be embraced by his father and restored to a place of privilege in the family; how the prayer of a "woman" could bring the court of heaven to her defense.
-He embraced lepers.
-He allowed a band of women to travel with him.
-He said, "Moses said, but I say…." In other words, he clearly taught people they had to transition in the way they related to the Old Testament, something we still have not done well.
-He plucked some grain on the Sabbath.
-He healed a man on the Sabbath.
-There is so much more that could be added to this list………

Look through the list above, how many items on the list would bring you before the church board?

Remember, the Jesus that did all of the above, brought sight to blind eyes, healing to crippled limbs, life to dead bodies, forgiveness to sinful souls, and a new way of living to the whole world. The reaction of those who defined "holiness" in his day? They labeled him a blasphemer, opposer of the Law of Moses, an imposter, and a son of the Devil.

What did God say? "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!"

Jesus never condoned "sin." He never "condemned" sinners. He was able to live in the place between the two–the place called "compassion." He was moved by this compassion to step into the world of sinners without allowing sin to get hold of him. Holiness is about the core condition of our hearts. This is where God looks and finds the truth about why we do what we do. Man still looks on the outward appearence, God still looks at the heart.

In all the above list (and much more could be added), Jesus never sinned. He perfectly obeyed the will of his Father. At the heart level he remained pure and holy. He stated that the religious leaders of his day where like white-washed tombs filled with dead men’s bones. He stated that they were making God’s word of no effect through their traditions. In simple terms, Jesus was willing to look "dirty" on the outside in order to see people change on the "inside" while the religious tried very hard to look "clean" on the outlside but did not deal with the "dirt" on the inside.

We need to learn to walk it out like Jesus did–motivated by compassion while upholding Father’s heart about the destructive nature of sin. We must remember as Jesus did, that it is sin issue at the heart level that results in off-course living and thinking. People are treasures to be loved and dealt with redemptively. Law always drops the hammer on us. Grace is a necessity for us to live a life that will honor God. It has to be more than honoring God will our lips, it has to be from the heart. Religious law based zeal with its list of "How to look like a Christian" that can keep us from discovering what we truly need at the heart level. Our flesh loves being equipped to become a "spiritual policeman" in order to catch a sinner and put him in the jail of public opinion. Yet, Jesus said, he came to set people free. Free from sin and free from a "holiness" that keeps us from letting our light shine where it is most needed.

So, we must avoid making "holiness" all about what other people see when they look at us. Some looked at Jesus as he stepped into their world with grace and truth and saw a Savior who came to them to reveal God’s heart of love, mercy, and grace. Others looked at Jesus from their religious perches based on where he was seen, who he was seen with, and what he was seen doing and called him a "Devil." One crowd was right, one crowd was wrong. We will always be in one crowd or the other.

Thanks for reading,

Eddie

(A New "Listen Up Moment!" is posted each week on Sermon Seedbed)

Eddie Lawrence
As a husband, father, pastor, author, and web developer, Eddie lives an exciting and productive life. He holds earned Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees and is also the owner of Sermon Seedbed.

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