Why Holiness?

In 2012 heb ik op Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA de jaarlijkse Gould Holiness Lecture verzorgd. In de lezing heb ik aan de hand van Jesaja 5 en 6 gezocht naar een paradigma voor de kerk in een geseculariseerde en post-christelijke wereld. Het biedt een Bijbels raamwerk voor mijn visie op de kerk die vanuit de marge van de samenleving Christus representeert. Hieronder is de Engelse tekst van mijn twee lezingen.

PART 1

I want to start with a probing question: Why holiness? Why is this so important for a denomination to position itself as a holiness church? My intention is not to undermine holiness, but to see the importance of a concept that has become too familiar for us. We hear so much about becoming holy that we forget why we need to strive for holiness. Why should it be such a concern?

I am reminded of one of the great Disney movies of a decade or so ago, Finding Nemo. One of the storylines in this movie is the fish in the aquarium in a dentist’s practice. They want to get out, and when they are finally in the big ocean, be it all in separate plastic bags, one of them asks: Now what?  Getting out had become their goal, and once this was realized they did not know what to do with their freedom. They had become so pre-occupied with the means of getting out that it became the goal. This is sometimes the feeling I have when holiness people talk about holiness.

In his book on spiritual formation, Robert Mulholland describes the same danger. “Everything that God has done, is doing and ever will do in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ is not so that we may someday be set in a display case in heaven as trophies of grace” (Invitation to a Journey 40). He says that spiritual formation is never the goal in itself, but believers become transformed for the sake of others. In other words, we need to work on our own spirituality so that we become less of a problem to others, but a blessing instead.  He puts spiritual formation back on its place; it is not the goal but the means.

I think the stress on the importance of holiness runs the same danger that Mulholland described for spiritual formation. So my question in relation to holiness is the same as the fish in Finding Nemo:  Now what? Why holiness?

In my two lectures I will follow a biblical approach and be working with chapters 5 and 6 of Isaiah. We start with chapter 6 and then go back to chapter 5, to return to chapter 6 in our next lecture.

 

1 Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6 is a well-known chapter. In my Bible, the NASB the story is divided into two parts and has these two headings: “Isaiah’s vision” and “Isaiah’s commission”.

 1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,

   “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,

   “Woe is me, for I am ruined!

Because I am a man of unclean lips,

And I live among a people of unclean lips;

For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” (NASB)

A wonderful story. You may have heard sermons on this passage that deal with God’s holiness cleansing us from sin. But this is not the entire story. This is only the first half, and the best is still to come. So far it has only been an introduction, and many have already been fully satisfied and close their Bible, saying: “Praise be to God”, and join in with a song praising God for his holiness and love.

Do you know how the story continues?

Verse 8:  Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people…..

All that has happened to Isaiah, the wonderful vision and the forgiveness of sin enabled him to hear God speak. Before, he was overwhelmed, full of awe and he was focused on himself, saying I am lost, I cannot endure this. He was full of anxiety; not able to listen to what God had to tell him. It is only after he was touched by the fire of the coal and heard the voice offering forgiveness that his pulse is calm and he is able to breathe normally. Now he is able to focus on other things than his own anxiety, and hears the Lord speak to him.

All the people who stop reading after verse 7 commit a severe sin! They close their Bible right at the moment when God starts to talk and address us personally. They silence God with their well intended praises. Or to put it in other words, the means has become the end. The experience of forgiveness and holiness that should have enabled them to listen more carefully to what God has to say to them, has become the end. By stopping with verse 7 they do not let God reach his goal with them.

Why holiness?  It is not so that we have a wonderful miraculous experience with seraphim flying and smoke filling the sanctuary. It is not so that we have a wonderful testimony of how God saved and sanctified us. All of this is only the means, the preparation for what God has to say to us and what he wants us to do.

We will come back to chapter 6 in the second lecture, and pay close attention to what God asked of Isaiah. Now, I would like to take a step back and take a look at chapter 5 as this provides the context for understanding chapter 6.

 

2 The vineyard

Isaiah sings a song about the vineyard of his friend. He had selected a good spot on a fertile hill with a lot of sunshine. He did all he could to produce the best grapes in the world. He cultivated the soil, removed the stones, built a fence to keep the wild animals out, selected the best vines and he was expecting the best wine you can think of.  But the vineyard never produced the good grapes he was expecting. The text does not say this but we can assume that he had tried for several years, but every time the same result: Useless grapes.

In verse three the owner of the vineyard interrupts the song Isaiah is singing for his audience, and he addresses the crowd with a question. This is like an interactive TV show. Isaiah is the host, describing what happened to the vineyard of his guest and now the guest is pretty angry at his vineyard and turns to the audience in the studio. You judge! Am I to blame for this? Was there anything else that I could have done? Did I neglect any of my responsibilities? Wasn’t I justified in expecting a good harvest?

The vineyard owner is pretty angry and he does not even wait for an answer of his audience, and announces that he is giving up on his vineyard. He is not planning to sell his property but he will just lay it waste. “I am no longer taking care of it” and then he describes what will happen to this treasured piece of property: the weeds will grow, the fence will get holes, the vines will become wild without pruning… the whole thing will become a wilderness.

The audience may think: How sad! He is giving up too early! Isaiah as a good TV host may even ask his audience: What do you think about all of this? And then comes the surprise: the landowner says, this was just a metaphor, a story I told to communicate my message. People, you are like this vineyard, you had great potential, ideal circumstances and I was expecting great things to happen, and what a disappointment this has been. If anyone in the crowd was not paying attention and dozing away, Isaiah’s guest now had all of his audience on the tip of their chairs.

As is clear from the text, this owner of the vineyard is God. Verse 7 concludes:

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

Isaiah is communicating two messages:

  • The people have failed and their society is a mess. God had done everything to expect a society that reflects values of justice and righteousness, but behold the people cry out in distress because of the injustice that is done to them.
  • God will let them deal with the consequences of their behavior and not intervene. If they are not willing to listen they need to learn it the hard way.

When we place this message in the context of the Old Testament, Isaiah is communicating the bankruptcy of the covenant.

  • God had liberated his people from the oppression and slavery of Egypt.
  • At the Sinai the people had committed to build a society that exhibits the salvation of God, a holy nation and a royal priesthood as we can read in Exodus 19:3-6.
  • God had miraculously brought them to their new territory, liberated them from their enemies and blessed the nation under the rule of David.
  • But then things deteriorated and now the situation Isaiah faces is completely different; a country in moral decline, full of injustice, religion has become a formality and the existence of the nation is in peril. Life is a mess at all levels.

If you would continue reading in chapter 5 you get the picture: abuse of power (5:8); self-indulgence of the wealthy (5:11); unbelief in God’s providence (5:19); distortion of the truth (5:20); excessive drinking (5:11,22); bribery and injustice (5:23).

The message of God is that he is going to let the mess continue; allow things to get further out of control. To us this may appear to be cruel of God, or we may think that God is overreacting. We need to lest this rest for now, but we will return to this next time when we continue with chapter 6 and the task God gives to Isaiah.

 

3 The vine and the branches

I would like to shift to the New Testament. Jesus retold this story of the vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46), but gave it a twist by focusing on the tenants who refused to give the harvest to the owner, killing his servants who had come to collect it, and ultimately the son of the landlord. This story is safe to listen to because Jesus talks about others; the people of Israel who did not recognize the rights of God. The kingdom will be taken away from them and given to other people (21:43). In the same way we can listen to the song of Isaiah, because it doesn’t talk about us. We may even think that we are better off because we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

But there is another occasion when Jesus referred to the vineyard of Isaiah: “My father is the vinedresser. Every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away. It is thrown away as a branch and dries up, and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned”. Maybe you recognize the words. These are from John 15, and I have left out some of the other familiar words to show the resemblance with Isaiah’s song. Here too Jesus is talking about:

1) Bearing fruit, producing good grapes.

2) He emphasizes God’s response when his people are not bearing fruit.

These words are not directed towards Israel, but to his disciples, they are directed to us. Apparently the problem of not bearing fruit continues to be a concern, not just for Israel in the Old Testament but also for the church in the New Testament, and God’s approach has not changed: “Every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away”.

But there is a significant difference that I have left out. Jesus says: “I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5). God has not changed his expectations. He is still expecting good fruit, but God has done something beyond creating the best possible circumstances as in Isaiah 5. What is new is Jesus, the vine, who provides the resources for the branches to bring forth good fruit.  Comparing the metaphor of Jesus with the one of Isaiah, we see a reduction. Isaiah compared the people with the entire vine-plant, Jesus focuses only on the branches. He himself is the vine, the stem out of which the shoots grow that produces the grapes.

Jesus communicates that He is the source of growth, and encourages his disciples to stay closely connected to Him, to abide in Him. In our WiFi-world we all know what having a good connection means. A slow connection or a weak signal limits what we can do on the Internet. The faster the connection the better the results. The closer the connection to Jesus the more fruit! The issue here is a spirituality of remaining in Him, or being in Christ to use the words of the Apostle Paul. This is the condition for producing good fruit.

 

Conclusion

It is time to bring things together. We started talking about the means and the end of holiness. Using the metaphors of our biblical passages we can say:

  • The means is remaining in Christ as the vine, or experiencing the holiness of God like Isaiah.
  • The end is hearing his voice calling us for his purpose. Or in the words of Jesus: to bear fruit.

We have also encountered God’s judgment. What are we to do with this warning of what God will do when the vineyard or the branches are not producing fruit? Let me share my European view. Over the last 150 years the church in Europe has been shrinking significantly. In most countries less than 10% of the population goes to church regularly. We say it is the evidence of secularization and we blame developments in our culture; modernity, Enlightenment, consumerism etc. But what if we place this development in the context of Isaiah’s song of the Vineyard and Jesus’ words about the vine? Isn’t then the real problem that we have not been abiding in Christ and He in us? Shouldn’t we blame ourselves instead of society? Isn’t this what God told us what would happen if we were not producing fruit?

Any talk about holiness needs to begin with the acknowledgement that we have made a mess. I am not talking here in an individualistic way, because then we may still congratulate ourselves that we are not as worse off as some of the others. Like Isaiah we need to identify with the culture in which we live. We need to confess: We, the people of the earth; we, the believers of the western church; we, the members of the Church of the Nazarene… we have messed up! We are not producing the fruit you expected Lord! Without this confession we make a wrong start. This was also Isaiah’s starting point: “I am a man of unclean lips for I live among a people of unclean lips”.

To make this specific for us: The western church needs to confess that we have lost the spirituality of remaining in Him as Jesus talked about.

  • When I look at all the initiatives of many churches, I see programmes and activities focused on evangelism, discipleship or church planting. These initiatives are introduced as if the church is a business.
  • But what I do not see in many churches is the spirituality of the saints of the past. The majority have no clue what to do with the words of Jesus to remain in Him like he is in us.
  • There is a lot of content on the market. Don’t we all have our favorite spiritual formation authors? True, but my impression is that this is more like a spiritual consumerism, a fast-food spirituality rather than really developing the discipline of remaining in Him. It does not go deep enough.

Our problem is that we are not willing to admit that we are in bad shape. We still hold on to triumphalistic language giving the impression that we are alive and kicking. Clearly, it is more than time to confess the mess we created. Any talk about holiness needs begin at this point. With this confession we need to return to Isaiah 6 to see how that encounter with God continues. But that needs to wait till the next lecture.

 

PART 2

As we explored in our first session, the song of the vineyard communicates God’s judgment on his people. It makes a very decisive point: The vineyard is not producing good grapes and God has decided to withdraw his protection. But this is not all, for towards the end of the chapter (5:26-30) the arrival of a hostile army is announced, coming like a whirlwind, roaring like a lion. Chapter 5 describes the mess the people made, God’s judgment, and the destruction that is to come.

 

1 Holiness

In contrast to this picture of the world in which Isaiah lived, chapter 6 reveals a completely other dimension of reality to Isaiah. Seraphim communicate to him that the whole earth is full of the glory of God. Isaiah lived in a world where God had been pushed to the margins by the people, where corruption and deceit ruled, and yet what is communicated to Isaiah is that the whole earth is still full of the glory of the Lord. Two realities confront each other, and Isaiah as the representative of the sinful dimension realizes that his world cannot survive this confrontation; it will just be consumed by the holiness of God, like water evaporated by the heat of fire. It is only after one of the seraphim touched his lips with a burning coal and spoke these calming words “your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven” that he can concentrate again and focus on what is happening. Now he hears God speak: “Whom shall I send?”

I have heard and read many interpretations that have made this into a personal experience of sanctification, an uplifting spiritual encounter of forgiveness and purification of sin. I think such interpretations miss the point, and make the experience of Isaiah the goal, as if God wanted to provide a spiritual high. As I said in my first lecture, we confuse the means with the end, and make the experience the goal.

John Wesley, the 18th century father of the Methodist and later holiness movements was engaged in various debates concerning what he called Christian perfection. He defined this as a cleansing of sin in the life of the believer, something the believer had to strive for. This teaching caused much debate. The questions arose: Is this cleansing the result of a specific religious experience or the result of a gradual development? Is there a certain moment or a certain kind of experience we need to seek? And when we have reached this point in our journey, will believers no longer sin anymore? Is there still room for growth after Christian perfection? These kinds of questions seem very theoretical to me and the result of seeing the experience itself as the goal instead of the means.

One of Wesley’s short answers to one of these issues provides, in my impression, the correct approach. His question inquires whether a believer is still able to grow after such an experience. His answer is a clear yes. He states: “The one perfected in love may grow in grace far swifter than he did before.” What Wesley says is that the sanctified person will change and grow even more than before. He clearly states that ongoing growth in grace is the goal, and whatever characteristics the experience may reflect is the means. In other words, a holy person will be less resistant to the transforming work of God; it will take a holy person less time to say: “I am sorry.” It will be easier for a holy person to deal with a difficult person.

This is what the experience of the burning coal did to Isaiah. It helped him calm down; he was no longer preoccupied with his own emotions and feelings and was able to listen to God.  The issue was hearing God speak to him and not just having a spiritually uplifting experience.

 

2 God’s call

We need to continue the account of what happened to Isaiah. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go before us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” This is the message Isaiah received:

“Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;

Keep on looking, but do not understand.’

“Render the hearts of this people insensitive,

Their ears dull,

And their eyes dim,

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

Understand with their hearts,

And return and be healed.” (NASB)

These words are mysterious and for us almost impossible to fully understand. For us they seem to go against the nature of God; how is it possible for God to desire the hearts of men to be hardened? In order to attempt an understanding we have to take chapter 5 into consideration. Isaiah’s call follows the judgment of God over the vineyard and the coming destruction by the invading armies. We could ask: What is there still to preach when the decision has been made? What hope can be communicated when God has decided to let destruction take place? The best way to interpret this assignment is to see it not as a description of how he needs to preach but about the result of his preaching. In other words, God is commissioning Isaiah to preach but lets him know that there will be no result. Speak, but the people will not listen! Who wants to have such a ministry!

It is no surprise that Isaiah is asking God how long he needs to do this preaching. God’s response is even more de-motivating: “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitants, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate”. God is dead serious about his judgment, and Isaiah is more like an executioner of judgment than a preacher of hope. He compares Judah with a tree and says that the tree will not just be cut, but burned as well with only a stump remaining. Chapter 5 may have been depressing, but this call of Isaiah is even more so!

And yet, the chapter ends with a glimmer of hope. Holy seed is in its stump. It is this final sentence that points forward to later chapters of Isaiah where a small remnant will emerge out of the ashes of destruction, and a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse. Just as Isaiah experienced life after assumed death in his encounter, so his message is characterized by life after the predicted destruction. A perfect example of this metaphor of the seed is provided by contemporary science. Because of the melting of the permafrost, Russian scientists have found a 32.000 year old seed that had been encased by ice, and they have been able to let this seed germinate and so regenerate an extinct Siberian plant (National Geographic February 2012).  This is the hope Isaiah is preaching: The destruction may seem complete and final, but it is not; a remnant like the seed of an extinct plant will come to life again!

 

3. A Paradigm for the church

After our exploration of Isaiah 5 and 6, we now need to pull some strings together and apply them to our leading question Why Holiness?

  1. My theological struggle of the recent years has been to find a biblical paradigm for the ministry of a marginalized church in a secularized context. Many still use the narrative of the book of Acts, but that is a paradigm of a young, vibrant and growing church, and does not relate to our experience, because the church in Europe is old, and in decay. But, as I said in my first lecture, what if we picture the church as the vineyard of Isaiah 5 that is not producing fruit and is under God’s judgment? What if we see our call like Isaiah’s call to labour without result? Could such a paradigm help us interpret our experience?

Before we continue, let me make three things clear:

  • I am not seeking a paradigm for all of Christianity, but for the western church, or even more specifically, the church in Europe. On a global scale Christianity is not in decline.
  • I am not seeking a paradigm for individual churches, but for the western church in general. I rejoice about every thriving individual church, but unfortunately these are the exceptions.
  • I am not seeking a permanent paradigm but one that can help us for the situation we face today in the 21st century in Europe. Call it a paradigm for the 40 years of the desert or the 70 years of exile to use other images from the OT.

The paradigm provided by Isaiah 5 and 6 is one of judgment and renewal through the critical few/remnant, and relates to the established church experiencing a time with “no growth whatever we try”. You may think that working out of such a paradigm is pessimistic, but the Bible does not only contain happy stuff. Think of the apocalyptic sermons of Jesus (Mark 13; Matthew 24) or the book of Revelation. We shy away from them because we do not want anything to do with the end-time paranoia. These sermons of Jesus, along with the revelation of John also provide a similar paradigm of judgment, tribulation and persecution.

Such a paradigm does not mean that God is absent or not at work. Isaiah received the vision, confirming the fact that even in a situation of decay and labour without result, the earth is still full of the glory of God. But it becomes essential that we have eyes to see how God is working in such a time.

It is those individuals, the critical few that become His instruments, not the official organizations or the churches. In a time of crisis, God calls individuals who minister more or less on their own. He is telling Isaiah that the official temple religion has failed and calls him to work separately. Throughout Scripture we see God selecting individuals in times of crisis. God called Moses when the people were exploited in Egypt. He called the individual judges when the country was overrun by hostile troops who robbed the country of its economic resources. He selected Samuel when the existence of the nation was in danger and Paul to help the church get into the gentile world. And all of these like the prophets remained independent. Moses never became the celebrated leader of his people. The judges disappeared from the scene after their successes, and Samuel remained critical about the desire of his people to have a king. Even Paul remained somewhat separate from the apostles.

But these individuals were always called to be catalysts of change and transition for the sake of a larger group. Paul was called to help the church get out of a narrow mindset that limited the gospel to those of Jewish heritage. Moses was called to lead the people out of slavery in order to make God known to all of the earth (Exodus 9:16). Abraham was called out of his family and away from his country in order for him and his seed to bless all the people of the earth. God works through individuals for the well-being of all people.

In Isaiah we see the same pattern of God’s activity. The holy seed in the burned stump of the tree – the remnant or the critical few; the small community of followers of Isaiah – is not just lucky to have survived judgment day, but it becomes the means of God’s work of renewal. In chapter 11 Isaiah gives a picture of what will come forth out of this seed, out of this small community of the critical few:

“1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and strength,

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,

And He will not judge by what His eyes see,

Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor,

And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,

And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,

And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little boy will lead them.

7 Also the cow and the bear will graze,

Their young will lie down together,

And the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,

And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.

9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

As the waters cover the sea. (NASB)

You see what is happening here when we combine the various chapters of Isaiah?

  • The people failed living the covenant life; the vineyard is not producing good grapes.
  • God sends his judgment; destruction will come.
  • But a remnant, a critical few will survive; the holy seed.
  • Out of the stem a shoot will come forth; a new ruler full of the Spirit of God.
  • His rule will be a blessing to the earth as a whole new order will arise.
  • And all the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

This is how God works in the paradigm of judgment and renewal. He will execute his judgment, and the hope for the future is with the critical few, the remnant, they are not just the lucky survivors, but become the first fruit and the means of a renewed future. This is the paradigm of the cross and the resurrection.

We come back to our question of “Why holiness?”, but we need to make it more specific: “Why holiness when we are experiencing decay and decline?”

  • It is not to have an uplifting experience that helps us keep going; to forget the misery around us. This makes holiness into a drug, but it does not change anything.
  • God needs individuals; God is looking for the critical few. People, like Isaiah, who are fully aware of the serious state we are in, the mess we have made of the earth, society and the church.
  • God needs people who say: “Send me”. People, like Isaiah, who are willing to be part of a minority, a remnant that functions as a thread towards a better future and the first fruits of this renewal. People who are willing to move out of their comfort zones, out of the box and become agents of God’s judgment and renewal for the sake of God’s creation.
  • Holiness is the means of becoming such an individual, such a catalyst. Such individuals need to be able to hear the voice of God, they need to be abiding in Christ the vine in order to bear fruit. They need a deep spirituality.
  • Why holiness? Because our world and our church are in crisis and Gods looks for individuals who are catalysts of change and agents of transformation.

 

Modern day saints

We all know how critical having a good doctor or specialist is when we are dealing with a serious and complicated health issues. Several years ago, my wife had heard a person talk about a specialist that triggered her interest, and after various disappointing experiences with her specialist, she decided to try this new doctor. She made an appointment and felt the difference immediately during her first visit. This was a person who really listened. This doctor treated my wife with more respect and was able to be an encouragement; even though the treatment remained the same. After one of her visits, Wilma said to me: “This doctor is such a blessing to me. It would not surprise me if I find out that she is a Christian!” During another visit the conversation was about Wilma’s job of teaching New Testament Greek at our college, and then her doctor said that she had started out studying theology but could not master Greek and that she then decided to become a doctor and minister to people in this way. And she has probably been a greater blessing to more people than if she would have followed her original plan.

This doctor is an example of the saints we need in the 21st century. In the past, most saints were locked up in monasteries, and in recent time the saints were hidden inside our church communities. And our strategy was: come to us and meet these saints. But the world has changed and now we need to have our saints outside the safe boundaries of the church and Christian institutions at all levels in our societies, individuals who stand out in their professions. They are the critical few that make a difference, the minority with a distinctive influence. And it is the ministry of the church to build up, empower, and encourage and send out these saints into society.

In closing, I would like to challenge you students. You are studying at a college that stands in the holiness tradition. You are preparing to become a good teacher, doctor, researcher, administrator, business-person, pastor, nurse, all careers for which you need the proper knowledge and skills. But we have plenty of good professionals; what we need are the right professionals, people who make a distinctive influence in our society and churches, who, as we read in Isaiah 11, decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth. Such people possess the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and do righteousness. A holiness college is the place to become not just a good but the right professional for our time.

Jesus told his disciples: You are the salt of the earth. You are the salt in whatever you do and wherever you are. Holiness is about a deep spiritual relationship to God so that the salt does not become tasteless; it is the investment in Jesus the vine so that you can bear fruit. Why holiness? Our world is a mess, and needs holy people, not gathered in churches, but scattered like the salt over the various shops, schools, businesses, hospitals, agencies, governments, factories in our societies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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