Recently I was reviewing my early childhood with a friend when the topic of church came up. “Where did you go to church as a young boy,” he asked. I had to pause with my answer because my parents and grandparents attended and worshipped at a “Holiness” church. It was a church of long-standing and founded by my grandfather. However, at the age of 13, I moved to a Methodist church in the community, where I remained until I left and went to college. My friend immediately thought I had changed because the word Holiness is often confused with Legalism which so often focuses on outward forms rather than inward transformation. He was taken aback when I said I attended the Methodist church because of the outstanding boy scout troop and their evening youth service (MYF).
The boy scout troop was led by a retired military officer (Curtis Collier) and a local farmer (Bishop Pirkle). The thrust of their leadership was focused on the transformation of young boys into young men. I remember vividly the first step in becoming a ‘scribe’ scout was to present yourself as living a life that reflects excellence. It was the first time I had heard the term “let your light shine before others so that they may see you in a positive way.” Our scoutmaster was constantly telling us of the dangers of the culture and being conformed to the culture. At the age of 13, I did not fully comprehend the teaching but I did understand “being good” primarily because the culture of the time was about being “GOOD”. It was because of this experience and the influence of the Church that, with time, I became aware as a young person it was easier to become conformed to the world than to transform it. I can still hear my mother tell me when I departed the house……..” Gary, you be good…………………………………..”
This brings me back to the word ‘holiness’. In today’s society, I am suggesting that our lack of focus on holiness is causing us to compromise clear and basic biblical standards in a way that would have scandalized our scout troop. We have become and are becoming numb to sin and to the sinfulness of sin because the doctrine of holiness has been neglected or diluted. It was the prophet Jeremiah that reminded us so vividly…..” they were not ashamed; they did not know how to blush” (Jeremiah 8: 15). Mediate on that statement for a few minutes………………….
But we should be ashamed, we should blush. The holiness of our lives should fill our minds with: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things………… (Philippians 4:8)
Unlike my days as a boy scout, we are in constant danger of being conformed to the world, and in continual danger of being the proverbial frogs in the cultural kettle. Equally so, we are in constant danger of being transformed by culture rather than transformers of it.
We are to be in the world but not of it. In short, regardless of the name of the church, holiness is our status in Christ. Christ by living holy lives in word, thought, and deed. You shall be Holy………….1 Peter 1:14-16)