–April of 2000
A Serious Saintliness
Henry Drummond, while preaching in chapel at Harvard many years ago, said, “Gentlemen, don’t touch Christianity unless you mean business.” Drummond’s voice seems very much out of vogue in modern day religion, but he was right on target then and now. The common admonition of our day is to “lighten up” and not take religion too seriously. J.I. Packer has compared the modern route in religion to something similar to the “hot tub experience.” “The hot tub experience,” says Packer, “is sensuous, relaxing, sloppy, laid back—not in any way demanding…but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun.” Packer concludes that many today want Christianity to be just like that and take great pains to make it so.
Somehow a system of belief that culminated on a rugged cross has been reconfigured into a well-marketed program of “let us help you feel better about yourself and teach you how to enjoy life to the full.” This hedonistic spin on Christianity is in direct contradiction to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The yearning for happiness, rather than holiness, found so widely among Christians professing a superior degree of sanctity is sufficient proof that such sanctity doesn’t exist. John Wesley said of the members of one of the early Methodist societies, that he doubted that they had been made perfect in love because they came to church to enjoy religion instead of to learn how they could become holy.
Real saints are serious about real holiness. I don’t mean a couple of trips to an altar or the regular verbalization that “I’m sanctified.” I mean real sanctity. Holy people seek to be separate from all that stains their world or dirties their lives. They are free from all sinful thoughts, impure motives and questionable activities. Through the power of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, they have found true inner goodness and authentic clean living.
A call to real sanctity needs to be taken up with great intensity in our day. All the praying, sacrificing and pleading with God will not bring revival until we take seriously the call to holiness. If we choose to fill our minds with pornography, violence, immorality, hatred, promiscuity and self centeredness and call it entertainment, then we can be certain that God will not hear our prayers. We cannot expect a divine visitation if we are unethical in business, corrupt in our speech and careless in our commitments. Let no one be fooled. True Christianity makes serious demands on out lives. It is impossible to have a heart in one condition and produce fruit of an opposite condition. A holy heart will affect our actions, just as our actions reflect our heart.
Saints are serious about obedience. The apostle said, “For this is the love of god, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1John 5:3) Someone has high rightly said that it is impossible for a man who loves God to say, “No, Lord,” because if Christ is truly our Lord, we cannot refuse him. Jesus said it this way in Luke 6:46, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” In the salvation process God radically and immediately reorients our lives to Christ so that He is truly Lord of our lives.
Saints are serious about servanthood. Paul reminds us again that “our life is not our own,” but it is “hid with Christ in God.” We are told that “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord.” It is only in the context of servanthood that our lives can become something beautiful for God and resourceful for others.
Richard Foster may have summed it up best when he said, “The desperate need today is not fro a great number of intelligent or gifted people, but the desperate need is for deep people.” Dr. Foster, I couldn’t agree with you more.