Authenticity and Holiness

I’m taking a Christian Writing class at Asbury Theological Seminary this week. As I was leaving, my daughter inquired, “I thought you were done with all of that,” as if one is ever “done” growing and learning. I explained to her that the Methodist Church likes their pastors to continue learning, so, no, I was not done, yet.

During one of the first discussions, the issue of postmodernity versus modernity arose as it related to writing. The comment made was that postmoderns were interested in authenticity while those of the modern ilk felt that leaders should not show any weaknesses. I wondered if the issue with postmodernity was not so much an issue of authenticity, but of shedding the guise of holiness. The message I tend to hear is, “We are just as screwed up as the rest of you, but we love Jesus.” I noticed, especially through social media venues, many who seem unconcerned with holiness because they know Jesus will forgive them of any and all sin. The strike against leaders not showing (or even admitting) weakness is the reality that leaders do have weakness. We know that nobody is perfect. Pretending otherwise is simply false advertising.

Is it possible to merge of two? Can we combine authenticity and holiness? Wouldn’t that be the best way forward? Rather than living like the culture at large, or pretending we are perfect, why not cultivate an authentic life that reflects the holiness of God through Jesus?

We yearn to be holy because Jesus is holy. Remember, if you will, Jesus even tells us to be perfect (Matt. 5:48. It should be pointed out, that the command to be perfect was right after Jesus said to love one’s enemies. The perfection command was in the context of love)! Should following Jesus make us concerned with how we act and live?The best message isn’t, “we are just as screwed up as the rest of you,” or “we have no weaknesses,” but rather, since we are following Jesus he is helping us reflect the character of God, which, ultimately, is holy love (Dr. Kenneth Collins wrote a book called Holy Love, which is a book about holiness. I like the phrase Holy Love because it both describes what holiness really is, loving God and loving people, and doesn’t have the negative baggage the term holiness does).

Does the world really need more screwed up people? Does the world really need people who believe they are perfect (or holier than thou)? Or, does the world need imperfect people who have been redeemed, restored, and transformed by the love of God through Jesus and are living a life of holy love? Jesus offers us forgiveness, but he offers us more. He invites us into a journey that leads us from our sin, into the beautiful creation God created us to be; a reflection of his holy love.

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