The Truth about Life You'll Never Hear on the Evening News
I hadn’t watched the weekend news on network television in a long time when it came on one evening after a sporting event ended. The frantic tone of the newscaster relayed bite-size stories of human beings living in the world. Everyone it seemed was broken.
For many being whole feels like an elusive ideal. Our brokenness seems beyond repair. Even Christians struggle to live as Kingdom citizens in a world that constantly tries to pull us into its misery.
God created us to be whole—holy. His goal for us is not to get us to act right, but for us to live in the fullness of who He intended for us to be. Do we have to wait for heaven to be whole? Jesus didn’t think so. He came to give us what was needed to live life to the fullest here and now. He is our example and teacher toward holiness or becoming whole.
Holiness has gotten a bad reputation. To be holy in our world is to be boring, judgmental, and self-righteous. From the world’s perspective, holy people don’t have fun. The less fun a person is, the holier they are—and not in a good way. The world has it wrong. Whole people are people of character. Those who lead holy lives are the kind of people we want living in the world.
- Holy people have fun, but not at another’s expense. (As opposed to exploiting others because of their brokenness.)
- Holy people share because they are confident in God’s provision no matter their circumstances. (As opposed to living with a sense of scarcity.)
- Holy people are expectant and hope-filled. (As opposed to adopting the self-interested perspective of a cynic.)
- Holy people are seekers. (As opposed to those who have stopped learning, growing, and are closed to the new.)
- Jesus never walked in a wide arc around pain and suffering. He met the broken in the middle of their brokenness and lifted them up.
- Jesus took what was available to feed people and trusted God to multiply. Lack did not keep him from acting. He trusted God’s provision to be enough.
- Jesus saw sinners as the people they could be if they were living in the eternal Kingdom.
- Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Because He understood the differences between what was eternal and temporal, He remained kingdom-minded and kingdom-focused. And He continued to grow as he embraced his eternal destiny. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (I know this refers to when he was a boy, but he was still growing as he prayed in the garden before he was arrested.)
We don’t like new. There are always exceptions, of course. I like my new pair of tennis shoes that will take me around the block for miles and miles in the coming year, but I haven’t liked breaking them in. There’s a transition time I am willing to accept because it’s necessary to get them to feel comfortable.
For those of us who have been Christians for years, we may shrug at the talk of newness. As the old saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. It's true enough I suppose, if you're closed off to change and your theme song is the old hymn, “I Shall not be Moved.” But if we want to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior," then it is necessary to embrace the new.
If you've never met the challenge of transition in your spiritual life, then you need to evaluate where you are. Are you stagnant in your faith? Transitions come with growth. They are hard, but they take us into new opportunities of trust. In hindsight, we see transitions as difficult seasons, but formative.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling pretty good about your holiness quotient, carefully consider your own estimation of your holy stature. Holy people have God’s favor not because of what they do, but because of who they are. Like Jesus, they have the favor of man. They are winsome in the world as Jesus was—approachable and life-giving. If we think have it all together but feel disgust rather than compassion for the broken among us, we have slipped over into legalism and pride, the antithesis of holiness.
Jesus hates legalism. He knows living in the freedom of the redeemed life is the only way to truly live. In his humanity, Jesus came to show us what it means to live in both freedom and holiness. He showed us “the Way.”
Colossians 3:1-17 gives us more insight into this life. The passage is pivotal to understanding the kind of life that will bear the fruit of wholeness. It’s a passage that we should meditate on for days or weeks until we get understanding. This is the kind of life the Holy Spirit empowers us to live. Verse 17 says this:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
This instruction is so practical. We can hold up our lives— what we do, what we say— to the mirror of God’s Word. We can ask, “Can I do this thing or that in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can I do this or say this and still represent Him in the world?”
When we live this way, we can expect that we will be “children of light, children of the day.” We put on the “beauty of holiness.” We won’t wear this holy attire in its full beauty here on the earth, but we can shine for Jesus as we learn to live more and more in the life that is everlasting.
I have good news. This kind of life isn’t a pipe dream. We can be whole because Jesus offers us life in his Kingdom. He died for us and sent his Spirit to live in us. When we receive his life, we become Kingdom people, beloved by the King. We are free to live, really live— if we want to.