When people see the word holiness, there is often an internal shudder that happens. "Ewww. Now I'm about to hear a litany of all the things I'm doing wrong. Holiness sucks." Or this: "Here comes the guilt. I could never live up to the standard of holiness. I am a failure." Or defiance: "They can't tell me what to do!"
But what if, instead, a life of holiness was actually the answer, not the problem? What if we were meant to live a life of holiness, and striving for that actually brought complete freedom?
The issue of holiness is addressed in John Eldredge's latest book The Utter Relief of Holiness. Now, let me be clear: I come into reading this book completely biased. I love everything John Eldredge ever wrote. He could write a book about hockey, and I'd probably read it. And once again, he has attacked hard issues with love and joy and the word of God in a way that challenges and does not condemn.
What Eldredge is most interested in with this book - and, indeed, it is the driving passion of his ministry - is the restoration of human beings. Eldredge has a heart to see people fully whole and fully restored. His suggestion here is that instead of shunning holiness, we were created for it, and therefore should embrace it - and that in that embracing, there is utter relief.
We all struggle with something. Personally, one of my biggest struggles is health and weight. I want to be healthy and put healthy things in my body and move my body in healthy ways (i.e. exercise), but I struggle to keep it up. But what if, in applying the principles found in this book, I stopped "trying" so hard and instead looked to the captivating goodness found in Jesus Christ? Eldredge states: "The power is not ours. The power comes from God, from the presence of the living Jesus Christ inside us." Our job is not to try and be good - our job is to run into the arms of Jesus and let His good become our good. Instead of praying "God, seriously, I'm gonna do better today!" we need to start with this simple prayer:
"Jesus, give me your holiness."
It's in this place of complete surrender to Christ that we find our holiness...and with that our relief. What if we simply did not struggle with the things that plague us - or at least, in struggle, we found power instead of of defeat? It would be an absolute relief to our life. This is the kind of freedom Christ offers us. If all the world embraced this idea, it would change the face of humanity - which is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came that we would have life to the fullest - right now. Eldredge points out that in John 14:27, Jesus says "do not let your hearts be troubled." This would indicate that we have a say in what troubles our hearts. not in our circumstances, but in our response, and that choice gives us much more power than we imagine.
We have holiness available to us if we would only surrender to Christ and allow His power and goodness to become our strength. And if we could let that happen...well then, that would be a relief.
Read the book. It will change your perspective on how to live the life you may have only dreamed of living.
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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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