Monday, November 7, 2011

Whimsical Holiness

This post (by Hugh Halter) attempts to describe the way in which Jesus was holy, and thus the way in which we should be holy.

In summary, the holiness we should pursue is:
  • Holding fast to personal convictions and values of Christ-likeness (which includes purity from sin)
  • Being deeply integrated in non-condemning, whimsical relationships with people who do not hold the same convictions.
I agree with these two statements.
    But the author takes artistic license too far and fails to recognize the context or purpose of the scripture he refers to. He ends up painting a very lopsided view of Christ - one which fails to use any form of sternness toward sinful hearts as a part of being 'whimsical'.

    You can read the article yourself, but I want to specifically address the four example relationships used while painting this picture:
    • 'Jesus made more wine for people who were already hammered drunk'. I don't read that they were drunk (but they may have been). God is deliberate about what He puts in (and leaves out of) scripture. I don't think He wanted us to learn this point from this incident. Rather, the point seemed to be an induction of the ministry of Jesus, proving to people that He was the Son of God.
    • 'Jesus purposefully neglected to remind His disciples to wash their hands correctly before eating'. The purpose was NOT to instruct us on how to deliberately avoid appearances of sternness in upholding purity. Rather it was to redirect where we should be stern - real purity is joyful heart submission to Christ as Lord.
    • 'Jesus bend down and drew something in the tear-moistened dirt beneath the sex-addicted woman caught in adultery'. This is beautiful and encouraging. I have no doubt Jesus continued to be gentle and patient with her as she followed Him. But He knew that sternness about upholding purity was part of His love for them, and part of why sinners found Him whimsical. So He DID say to her afterwards, with full authority and without apology - 'Go, and sin no more'.
    • 'Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes'. Interesting that all the specific examples we have of these sinners in the Gospels were extremely repentant, more so than many 'holy' people in church today! I think it is a mistake to assume Jesus was 'friends' of every single sinner. Rather He was friends with sinners who had been called by God to recognize their need for a doctor, to hunger and thirst after righteousness. For these people, just being in their midst was probably stern enough in upholding purity! This does not apply to every group of sinners on earth. Besides, these would respond with gratitude to the perfectly wise and gentle sternness which I am sure Jesus gave to them.
    I agree that we should pursue integrated relationships with sinners, even the worst, and that we should be whimsical in our holiness, not condemning. But we also need to be wise and humble before the Lord - seeking His leading about when and where we should apply sternness as part of our whimsical love toward those observing, and about which sinners are being called by Him to hunger after purity.


    1. I actually quite liked the post, I thought it brought a refreshing view of God that challenged me to step out of my little circle of friends and meet people that hold different values; yet not conforming to their values but through example guiding towards the WAY.

      I agree with you Josh that he extended scripture beyond what it actually said, especially in regard to the wine episode lol; but I suppose he is allowed his inferences. As you also correctly pointed out, Jesus also preached strongly against sin in contexts that he uses.

      However, I think his article is one of those that are there to shock or emphasize a truth that needs to be drummed into all of us conservative hermits; that truth being, that we are to be IN the world, not just physically but socially too, and yet not sinfully.

    2. Yes you're right Dan. John Piper once said that Jesus didn't say 'You can't help being IN the world, but try hard to be not OF the world'. He switched it around - 'You can't help being not OF the world, but try hard to bring me INTO the world'. -- John 17:16-18