I’ve heard people complain before that Christianity feels very much like a set of rules. There are friends of mine that regularly complain that as a Christian, they feel like they can’t have the same kind of “fun” as their “non-Christian” friends. In their voices there’s almost this sense of regret or bitterness that their lives are no longer like what it used to be.
I suppose much of that thinking stems from God’s challenge for us to be “set apart.” Called to be a “holy” people. And what we think is that “holiness” means living a moral life, being good, choosing to do the “right” thing. And then it leaves the believer looking disdainfully on, as if they are missing out on something else. But is that really what holiness is?
I remember one time when I was a University student in Sheffield, i was in the local supermarket with a friend, choosing cereals. My friend put a box of bran flakes into his shopping basket and I put a box of Cocoa Pops. My friend looked at his box, and then my box, then placed his bran flakes back on the shelf and said, “I think i’ll get Cocoa Pops too.” I suppose we both knew that bran flakes were the healthier option, but after seeing my disregard for my own health, he too went for the chocolatey sweet option.
I suppose that’s how we see the struggle with holiness at times. Does being holy mean forsaking Cocoa Pops? Is the Christian life devoid of sugary sweetness? Or rather, are we choosing something without substance, over something more beneficial? Thinking about my current dental health, perhaps i should have made some wiser choices in my youth. 🙂
Melanie Croom (speaking instead of Carolyn Kemp who was ill), said:
“There’s a kind of divine arithmetic in holiness. The subtraction of all that is worldly (or all that is not of God) and the addition of Christ-like qualities. It affects the whole spectrum of your life.”
Holiness, and the choices we make as Christians, is not simply about removing those “delicious” or “sugary” things from your life. But rather choosing something better, tastier, and more filling instead. As Jesus says, he has bread that satisfies and water that quenches. Holiness is not just the abstaining of things, but it is the filling up of those spaces with Christ – a renewing of the mind, a filling of the Spirit, a replacing of the old with the new.
So then, if your eyes continue to look longingly at the world, or you continue to cast your eyes back towards to the life before you knew Christ, perhaps you should ask Him to fill you anew. To fill those desires with the way that only He can satisfy.
“Holiness is not simply a matter of right language, or habits, or recreation, or clothes, or friends. It’s when it is in the heart and it affects all of those things and more.”