As a PK, I feel like I have been a Christian since the day I was born, however, in July last year, I made a decision to make a commitment to pursue God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and body. I committed to fully engage in relationship with God particularly to walk in holiness… no turning back. I even committed to reading The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (if you are looking for a good book, I recommend this one).
Last week I was taking stock of my life and I started to feel discouraged because I am failing woefully against the measures I put in place to gauge how well this holiness lifestyle is going. I am more than 20 days behind on my Bible-in-a-year reading plan, the things I think about still stink even if I never act them out, and frankly, some days prayer feels like a chore. I have been asking myself, “what am I doing wrong?” and the answer came to me in church two weeks ago (shout out to Pastor Kirk Cowman).
Like most people who come to know Jesus as their Lord and personal saviour, I started out the year very well-intentioned: to have a relationship with the Lord. But soon enough, it became all about obeying a set of rules as a benchmark of holiness. If I read my bible and pray every day, and do not swear when I am frustrated, or lie, or exaggerate, or backbite, or speak ill of others then I am walking the holiness path- you know that straight and narrow path Jesus talks about. The problem though is that almost every day I go back to square one. These rules are too hard to follow every single day. It is exhausting! And that’s because holiness is not a result of following prescribed rules and guidelines. Holiness is a byproduct of being in a relationship with God.
At the core and heart of every Pharisee in Jesus’ day was a desire to be holy and they put themselves out there for everyone to see. Oh when they fasted and prayed or gave to the poor, they made a public show of it! Everything had to be done according to the laws of Moses. If they had computers in their day I bet there would have been one overzealous pharisee who would start a blog called Intentional Pharisee Living so he could show the world what a good Pharisee he was! But hear what Jesus says about their righteousness:
For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 20 BSB
Their holiness and righteousness were simply not enough. The holiness that gets you to see God (for without holiness no one will see God) is not the kind that comes from following rules. It’s the kind that you become because you are in a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Have you noticed that couples start to look like each other after years of being married?…such a fascinating phenomenon! That’s the stuff I am talking about.
The more you spend time in relationship with Jesus, the more you become like Him. I realize that I have missed the most important step to obeying the command: Be Holy Just as I am Holy (1Peter 1:16). And this is it:
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT
The more time I spend in relationship with Jesus, the more I will become like Him as I am changed into His glorious image. The holiness I seek will be a natural expression, a byproduct, of being in a relationship with Jesus.
Psalm 42:1-2 NIVAs the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?