Monday, September 10, 2012

holiness is not an achievement & the Soli Deo Gloria Party


It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.

Also, SDG retreat registration is still open!!  Click here to find out more information and learn how to register.  Registration for conference closes on September 23rd.
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The Door to Nowhere, Winchester House
I'm sitting in Sunday school and we are studying 1 Peter, the first chapter.  And my priest, Fr, Mike, says, at the beginning:

"Holiness is not an achievement."

He says it plainly, in a normal tone of voice, but my spirit reacts something like this:

"What?!?  HOLINESS is not something I can ACHIEVE?  How can this be?"  I'm all ears now, ready to listen to what it is, then?  Because I know the Bible tells me "to be holy as I AM holy" and if it's not something I am supposed to strive for, I have some reevaluating to do.

"To be holy simply means to be set apart," He says.  God has set Himself apart from this world by His very nature, and in turn, He has ransomed us from worldly futile ways through Jesus.  And, thus, we are called to live differently -- displaying His virtuous love and shunning the sins of malice, guile, insincerity, and slander.

I've learned a lot about grace and much about the kindness of God.  I'm learning that He designed me for rest and to need forgiveness.  But what I have still been unable to fully comprehend is the fullness of His motivations for the commands He gives to us.  Until, perhaps, today.

To hear "be holy as I AM holy" strikes fear in my heart.  No, not the reverent, healthy fear of an awesome God.  Rather, it's the fear that I will never measure up.  That I will never be able to try hard enough.  That I will always be striving, always be pushing, always having my head down and nose to the grindstone, pounding the pavement, doing the works that He has set out for me to do.  Always trying to be holy.  Always trying to be perfect.  Always trying to achieve and unachievable goal.  And, always failing, in one way or another.

Why would God tell us to do the impossible?

And it is impossible, this being perfect.  And if we set holiness as something to be achieved, we get stuck in the same rat race as the world:  I must work hard to meet my goals so that I can work harder to meet loftier goals.  I must produce so I am deemed worthy enough to produce more.  

But no.  God did not set us on this course.  His course, one set apart from the world, is one that sets us on the path of love.  I believe that God wants us to stay away from things of this world that bring only temporary fulfillment and that we must be obedient to that call.  But we aren't obedient because we think it will make us better or get us farther or bring us more blessings.  We are obedient because if we fill ourselves up with junk, there will be no room for the Love that fully sustains.  He calls us to be holy as HE is holy, He calls us to love as HE has loved us.  And He only asks this of us because He empowers us to do it and He did it for us, first.

"You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.  Love each other deeply with all your heart."
1 Peter 1: 22

This is not something we can do based on our own merits, for we must have His love fully ensconced in our hearts in order for us to stay on this path.  It is a natural extension of our walk with Him, to be set apart, to love each other deeply, to lay our lives down for our friends.  But it's only natural if we are plugged in to the Source.

I don't know about you, but I get unplugged often, usually without realizing that I've tripped the cord.  I let my little judgmental self get in the way of loving people.  I let my benchmarks and goals and products dictate if I'm on the right path instead the state of my heart.  I've decided to climb the mountain without asking for any help.  It can seem like an endless battle, but to know now that holiness is a state of being and not a destination on a road, brings me a sense of hope.

I don't have to be a certain way or do a certain project.  I don't have to write this or say that or minister to __ number of people.

I just have to let Him love me.

And that will dictate everything else.


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I am so happy to see your face here at Soli Deo Gloria.  Did you know we have small groups?  As SDG has grown, it started to lose a bit of the small community feel.  As such, we have groups that visit each other and leave comments for each other on SDG days so that you don't feel lost in this big blog world.  Would you like to be a part?  If so, please email me at jenfergie2000@me.com.  Also, if you are new here, please put "I am new" as your caption so that we might give you a proper welcome.

28 comments :

  1. "I just have to let Him love me."

    Wow. I needed to hear that.

    Such a beautiful post and my heart needed it.

    <3

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  2. This is such a powerful reminder, Jen! I love the line, "I just have to let him love me." Lately, I've been realizing what I DO for the Lord isn't important, rather it's what He does in and through me.

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  3. "Holiness is not an achievement." oh, how my heart needs to hear this...how my life this lesson is etched into the hard places on my face. the act of lessons learned through sorrow through failing at grace. love this jen. just like i love your heart. xo

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  4. My pastor said yesterday, "You are not made holy by something you don't do, but by something Jesus has done." I often forget that He saved me not only from my past sins, but my current ones as well. The same gospel I believed in to save me is the same gospel that changes and transforms me. Love this post, Jen! www.toshowthemjesus.com

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  5. "to know now that holiness is a state of being and not a destination on a road, brings me a sense of hope." yeah. great post, jen.

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  6. Such freedom in knowing that holiness is how He sees us because of Christ's righteousness, and not a destination...thanks, Jen...I always appreciate your words :)

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  7. Love this-- so much.

    "I get unplugged often, usually without realizing that I've tripped the cord.."
    Yes. So true of me. . .
    And I hate it.
    But He is faithful. :)

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  8. He tells us to do the impossible because we can't ... it can only be done through Him, in us. Awesome!

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  9. I just need to let Him love me too and to love Him back. I keep asking myself lately if I'm doing something cause I think it's what I need to do to get His approval or if it's because He placed it on my heart - a sharing of love.

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  10. Counting these blessings has opened my eyes to the love letters He sends me daily. It is allowing Him to love us - teaches us how to love Him back - and in the process, love so many others around us. You explain it beautifully, eye-opening perfectly.

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  11. Jennifer, always an inspiring word. My dry soul needed to read this. Thank you!

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  12. This line stopped me fast and I had to re-read it again....I let my benchmarks and goals and products dictate if I'm on the right path instead the state of my heart..... wish I couldn't relate to that statement. But I can- all too well. Thanks for the reminder today!

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  13. Just letting him love me. So why is something so easy, so hard? Lovely write Jen and your pictures are so wonderful.

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  14. As always, a beautiful post, dear friend. And I love the photo of the Winchester Mystery House! Nice touch. :)

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  15. Yes, being holy means that we are set apart. This is what we have to teach our children who ask why we have to do this or that, don't they have a choice whether to go to this or that retreat, camp, activity. We are set apart. In our community, or rather our community of communities, The Sword of the Spirit (a group of communities around the world), God gave us the Bulwark prophecy. We are to be a bulwark, a wall of defense to preserve our church. We are to live a way of life that is different from how the world lives, and thinks. When my son asks me, "Don't I have a choice?" I answer, "Yes you have a choice, whether to enjoy yourself in the camp or not to enjoy." God is faithful, He will prosper any effort we make to bring our children into the Bulwark, to be "set apart". :^) patsy

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  16. Tripping, falling, failing, striving to be worthy. Instead, I just have to let Him love me.
    That is probably the sweetest, most comforting truth I will read today. Thanks Jen!

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  17. Oh yes, the quest for perfection, innocently wrapped up in trying to be "holy" - it's like you are writing my thoughts. I have to constantly remind myself that perfection is not what God wants me to pursue. I simply need to pursue Him, and be open to His perfect love. You wrote it beautifully here, and the photo with Craig carrying your daughter on the rocky path is powerful.

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  18. I have known this long battle too...your last line...that was the key for me...letting Him Love me...until I really knew and received His love...I was in the performance trap(wrote a bit about it today)....fearing my failure...never measuring up...but now by God’s grace...He has erased “my markers”...and He lifts me to live in His Kingdom...and by His grace...I am more gentle with myself...therefore others around me. blessings Jen, as you let Him love you well~

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  19. Oooo...Holiness is not an achievement...liking this a lot. This makes it a state, a condition, that we are either in or out of. It is a position before the Lord that is either with Him or against Him. I just love this black and white stuff. Excellent.

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  20. Jen, how many times have I thought to myself, "I can never reach the goal or measure up to being good enough" and I know the Lord has impressed upon me so many times, it's not about that.It's about relationship with Jesus, to see Jesus for who He is....Holy Living God! The closer we are to Him, in that I will be amongst His holiness. Don't ya just crave it? I do! Always so good Jen.

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  21. I really needed to hear this today, Jen. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of His invitation to Life, in the act of surrender. Bless you, friend.

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  22. I love reading words written by someone else ( YOU!) that describes exactly what i am experiencing. This whole blog post echoed so much within me. Thanks for putting words to what I am feeling.

    So many great lines: "And it is impossible, this being perfect. And if we set holiness as something to be achieved, we get stuck in the same rat race as the world: I must work hard to meet my goals so that I can work harder to meet loftier goals. I must produce so I am deemed worthy enough to produce more. "

    Great post, Jen!

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  23. Love this line ... "And He only asks this of us because He empowers us to do it and He did it for us, first." So true! All because of Jesus' sacrifice - so thankful.

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  24. Praise God that He sees not our sins, but the perfect holiness and righteousness of His Son! Thanks for the great post & for hosting the linkup, & God bless!

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  25. It seems like such an obvious thing, but it's something I'm learning as well. Faith, it's a journey and holiness is not something I will achieve one time and stay there. I'll always be learning and changing and my heart will continually get little tweeks here and there. Awesome truths here!

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  26. Great post! :) My favorite part was, "I just have to let Him love me. And that will dictate everything else." It's so true. We cannot love the unlovable unless we have His love flowing through us. We cannot forgive the, "unforgivable" unless we have his forgiveness flowing through us. Our hearts have to be in tune and beating with His! Loved this! :)

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  27. Echoing others who're blessed by your GOD-breathed words. It's His Work, not ours. Ours is loving obedience which we have enough trouble with as it is. But we need to continually remind each other or we get lost in trying to do what He never meant us to do. Thank you.

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  28. Love your refreshing honesty ... glad to be here :)

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