Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Holiness: Jesus and "Good News" (Part Two)

So how does Bishop Kendall suggest that Jesus-centered "scriptural" Holiness can be spread in a renewed way? He gives 7 points here: (in my own words)

1. Jesus didn't use the language most associated with holiness in his day. It had been corrupted, and we might do good to check ourselves as to the language/pictures we use ourselves today.

2. The primacy of love found in Jesus threatened the Spiritual status quo by being radically inclusive. We need to return to Christ-like love, offered to all.

3. The lack of "steps towards Holiness" or "how it works" in the Gospel doesn't mean common patterns of life experience won't be observable; but it does reveal to us we may err in our need to "get it right". When looking for a common model/pattern, we should observe the life/death/love of Christ.

4. Jesus seemed to approach each disciple according to their needs "tailor-made". We would do good to shift from focusing on where we "are", and milestones achieved; to the way and the goal of the journey themselves. Each of us has unique experiences that may not match up to a given "formula".

5. "Jesus' way of love is grasped and lived ONLY in community." (emphasis mine) He notes that the interactions of Jesus usually played out in the company of others. This seems obvious, but I think Kendall is saying that we especially need to take note of this, given the climate of today's culture in the world AND in churches where it becomes about the private and individual.

6. A stronger connection MUST be made between a holy life and the mission of the church. Jesus entered a ministry already in progress "on behalf of people caught in the historical, social, cultural, and religious realities". That mission is ongoing, and we are called to service and ministry toward others, engaging the world and the powers.

7. This engagement must take the way of self-sacrificing love. In an ego- and ethnocentric world, we are called to proclaim a holiness that is love. "A dying to a self-centered life and filling with a divine love as the primary meaning of purifying from sin."

Altogether, I like this chapter. I think it would benefit many of us to read it, especially those in ministry serving the church. It's not simply about singing Jesus-songs, and getting as many people as possible to "ask Jesus in their hearts", or even "becoming entirely sanctified" so we can claim another spiritual milestone. We are not called to be the "Jesus-themed-country-club" we've so often become.

But it's not simply "trying hard" to embody these things listed, so that we can look and be proud of what we've done. It's relying on the Spirit of God to complete the work he has started, and join him where he is active...etc.

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