Don't Be Holier Than Jesus!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows." ~N.D. Wilson
I came across this quote last night and it really resonated with me. It encapsulated and said so well a few things I've been mulling over in my mind for the last several months. I recently preached a sermon on Matthew 5:13-16, which is the passage where Jesus tells his followers that they are salt and light in this world. What follows is a portion of that sermon talking about how, in light of this passage, we should view the world, the culture, and our pursuit of holiness.
"Jesus' teaching here should keep us from two common errors that Christians have made in regards to their relationship to the world: the first error is that the world is basically good and will gradually become better and (perhaps) even perfect through Christian social action. In opposition to this view, Christ says that the world is basically rotten. The second error is the view that because the world is basically rotten, the Christian should try to disassociate himself from the world as much as possible, staying away from 'bad influences.' So we guard, protect, and shelter and do everything with people in our church and perhaps other Christians. It's clear that as salt, the Christian is to be a preserving force in the world wherever God has placed him.
"James Montgomery Boice says, 'The salt never did any good when it was on one shelf and the meat on another. To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat. In a similar way, Christians must allow God to rub them into the world.' This means that we must be Christians at work, Christians in politics, Christians at home, Christians at the soccer games, Christians at the rec center, Christians everywhere.
"Boice continues, 'Oh, someone says, "that would mean that I would have to be taken out of the salt shaker and spread around, and I might get dirty and even seem to dissolve or disappear!" Yes, that is what it means. In fact, there is even a sense in which the salt must dissolve if the flavor is to be released.'
"Christian, beware of talk of 'holiness' that is holier than Jesus. Often, holiness (which means separateness) is taken to mean separateness from sinners rather than separateness from sin itself. Jesus didn't just take you straight to heaven when you were saved, he left you here for a purpose--a mission (Matt. 28:19-20). If your mentality is that the world is really awful and full of bad influences, so I'm just going to hunker down with my family and other like-minded Christians until Jesus comes, then you are sinning. You have lost your saltiness. Jesus is going to say later, 'Let your light shine!'
"Do you know non-Christians? Parents, do your children know non-Christians? Under the name of 'sheltering' are you keeping them from the mission Jesus gave them? Are you raising a house plant or an oak? By God's grace, let us be people who stand strong for Jesus, proclaiming His message with boldness, compassion, and clarity. Let us be ambassadors on mission for King Jesus. Let us be brilliant light that penetrates the deepest of darkness. Until Jesus comes, and for the praise of His glorious grace."

*Cross-posted from


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