Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Honor/Shame and Individual Holiness

I recently posted on Ben Witherington's blog about rights vs. gifts, and I argued that we in American are so focused on individualism that we have lost any sense of honor/shame. I sincerely think that we must regain a sense of honor/shame in order to fix the moral problems that pervade American culture.

I ended with the phrase "God doesn't necessarily want us to be happy, he wants us to be holy." My personal opinion is that the things that make us happy are not always the things that God would have us do. Many students here at KU are made happy by getting plastered, sleeping around, and skipping class. The last time I checked these things didn't make you holy; indeed, God speaks out against them! (Except the whole class cutting thing... But I digress...)

One respondee took up my comments and stated, "What is holiness to you? How you define holiness is everything! And becasue we may disagree to what that means, also means that we must not make the assessment for others. Your holiness is not mine..." I am intrigued by her statement. The problem facing our culture (both secular and Christian) today is that everyone thinks they have the right to define holiness for themselves. The Bible is very clear: We are called to be holy BECAUSE God is holy. God's holiness defines what holiness is, not our broken or shallow definitions. Holiness is defined by God.

She goes on to say that God wants us to have an abundant life filled with blessings. I think this sorely misses the point of the entire Bible! God's desire is not for our health and wealth, despite what Joel Osteen might tell us. God does NOT promise us great material blessings; read the end of Habakkuk: "Though there are no sheep in the pens, cattle in the stalls, crops in the fields..." God doesn't promise us great material blessings as a result of our following him; rather, he promises us he will be faithful to us if we are faithful to him...

The problem is that we see the blessings of God as our right rather than our gift. God doesn't owe us stuff because we follow him; sometimes it brings more heartache, pain, and persecutions! As Jesus reminds his disciples, "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life..." (Mark 10:29-30)

What God wants is for us to live lives that honor and glorify him through our holiness. That is our RIGHT and what, consequently, is RIGHT to do in our lives...

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