THE TWO UNHEALTHY, EVEN DANGEROUS MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AND HOLINESS: PART 2
The second unhealthy and dangerous misunderstanding of Christian life and holiness is connected to the issue of self-centered Christian behavior to others. This issue of Christian life and behavior leaves room for one’s own selfish will to operate. This particular problem in Christian life is commonly justified by the secularized promotion of the prosperity gospel. One of the critical causes of this negative phenomenon of self-centered Church teaching has prevailed from the irresponsible ignorance of the socio-ethical aspects of biblical holiness. All followers of Christ should not forget that the core value and nature of the relational foundation of holiness is at the center of Jesus’s teaching of Sermon on the Mount.
Can you imagine, if someone discovers a medicine for the cure of a deadly disease, and this person uses this miracle medicine only for themselves and never shares it with others? How selfish and irresponsible of an attitude and conduct this is! Unfortunately, in some people’s minds, this self-centered, individualistic attitude toward Christian life excuses us from the communal responsibility of Christian stewardship for others. Such mutual responsibility is the foundation of Jesus’ teaching about being “the salt and light” in the world. This is what we call “incarnational evangelism.”
Considering the biblical assessment of the issue of self-centered Christian behavior to others, Apostle Paul teaches this truth in Hebrews 12:14 to “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14, NRSV); “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (NIV). This particular Scripture reference leads us to acknowledge that holiness is inseparable from connecting with living in peace with others. It is a fundamental matter that in order to live in right relationships with others, especially with other fellow believers, we need to have a right relationship with God, the true source of peace. Although we will not always feel loving toward all other believers and even toward non-believers, it is God’s command and holy expectancy for us to pursue peace as we become more Christlike. This is the condition that God will see in us, one day when we will stand before His heavenly presence in eternity.
In his classical commentary, Matthew Henry emphasizes on the same passage of Hebrews 12:14 that “peace and holiness go together; there can be not right peace without holiness.” The purpose of the blessing of living in peace with Christ is ultimately for fulfilling God’s call to live with others in holiness. God calls us as His agents of peacemaking, wherever we are witnessing Christ at home, school, workplaces, and, especially, at the front lines of our ministry: it could be in Corps, the units of Adult Rehabilitation Center, College for Officers Training, Divisional Headquarters, Territorial Headquarters, or anyplace we are doing ministry in His name.
Holiness is a total way of life in relationship with Jesus Christ, the incarnate model of holiness. The biblical virtue of the Christian life of holiness should be transformed into the new vessel of our Spirit-centered life which is far distant from the problematic misconceptions or behavior of merit/works-based legalism or self-centered Christian attitude to others. John Calvin, a French reformer, once said, “to know God is to be changed by God.” To have this life-changing experience through knowing God who alone is “the Holy One” (Isa. 40.25), all God’s children must live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit with single-minded devotion (Matt 5:48) to Christ who cannot be compared with or be replaced by any other thing on earth.
As all faithful Salvationists are striving to know who true God is, God will show and provide His “most excellent way” of holiness for our lives so that we will be able to partake the power and blessing of sanctifying grace on earth with grappling the vision of eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom.
written by Major Young Sung Kim, Ambassador for Holiness, USA East SLD