Holiness vs dogmatism

When I reflect on my spiritual journey I have to admit that I waffle, at times, between desiring holiness in my life and turning to dogmatic beliefs. It really revolves around the question before all of us as we make choices in life, whether it is in a book we read or in how we spend our money. What is right and what is wrong? What is being dogmatic (I won’t do this on Sunday) versus what is wanting to respond to the Biblical call to live righteously, holy, without reproach? How do you get that right?

First of all, I don’t always know. It’s not simple. As a kid I knew as Christians we didn’t do certain things – not always sure why – but the rules were at times clear. As I grew older some of those got tested. Some I came to a conclusion that I agreed with and some not.

Here’s how I’ve approached (inconsistently) my faith.

First and foremost, comes the question are there things that impede or pollute my relationship with Jesus? Are there things that I think make it more challenging to live as He would have me live? That’s different for different people, you have to come to your own sense of this. However, there are some good Biblical guides that I take seriously.

First – the call to act justly, walk humbly, love mercy. That’s an important one to me. I’m certainly not perfect at it but I do try and I try to apply it most of all to relationships.

Second, is Paul’s admonish to guard your talk – his phrase is about “unwholesome words/talk” . I’ve tried to let that be another part of my behaviour – so you’ll not likely hear any swearing from me, but I think it goes beyond that to how we talk about others, what we say that is denigrating or if we pass on gossip, etc… Paul has a lot to say to the church around these kinds of things.

Thirdly is a list that Paul creates around what life “in the spirit is like” – he has a series of descriptive words that bring to mind the person who has what he also lists as the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

Those are all very positive qualities but we tend to think of what we shouldn’t do… not what we should be. I read a wonderful short book a number of years ago entitled Tired of to do Christianity? Yes is the answer.

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

So let’s turn the whole thing on its head and let’s ask ourselves what could we be…and from there decide what that looks like. I want to reflect on Jesus, though admit I’m not good at it. But that’s my desire and so I return to these three things… Act justly, walk humbly, love mercy. That seems to be an inadequate but possible definition for living a life of Holiness because it answers the question of the “And what does God require of you?”

So in enjoying the things that God provides and being good stewards of that, such as the produce of the land, the blue sky, sparkling water, and the relationships that are ours we do reflect God’s desire to give to us “life abundant”, and to do so desiring to not only be like Jesus in that but to be with Jesus in that seems to satisfy my definition of being one of Followers of The Way.

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