Tag: religion

What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?

 

Pre-study Comments and Questions

Welcome to the 6-week Bible study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry! Have you started reading the book yet? You can get an ebook or the paperback here. I will  work from the perspective that you haven’t started reading yet. It’s really important before we start the deep work on our hearts that we realize what idols/time-stealers are. Basically they are wants that become misshapen. They can be good things to start, but they get distorted and that’s when they become bad things. Example: you start going online to look for friends because you feel lonely in the evenings. Six months later you are on there non-stop. A year into it you’ve started an online emotional affair, and your spouse is complaining that he never gets to spend time with you any more. Now it’s an idol. The worst part about idols is we don’t realize we have them. Because of that, many people who need this study won’t bother with it.

My working definition is: “Anything that repeatedly gets between you and your worship of God.” Notice repeatedly! Sometimes people ask if they can do an activity one time, say, miss church to visit family out of town. That’s not an idol – it doesn’t repeat. So of course you can. 🙂

Please begin reading Chapter 1. There are 5 days in each chapter; that gives you Sunday off plus one other day, perhaps you are here on Thursdays so you use that as your other no-homework day. The most difficult homework you’ll have in the entire 6 weeks is at the end of Chapter 1, so be sure to allow extra time for that one.

Here’s your video link.The password to watch it is seven.

I’ll be here every Thursday at this time beginning today, but you read/comment as you have time.

Prayer: Father God, I pray that you will use this study as it is intended, to soften and clean each heart so that we can love and represent you better. Help us to hear what it is you are saying throughout the study. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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What’s Heaven Like, and Who Will Be There?

My latest video, based on a thought from yesterday’s church service: what is heaven like?
Please let me know what YOU think it’s like!

Very short, and no verses to look up. 😀