Musings about Standards and Separation
One of the most unpopular topics in today’s Christianity has to be the topic of holiness, especially when it relates to what we call “standards” or “issues of separation.” Perhaps some have abused the term in some ways and that is why it is so unpopular. It may also be that we are living in an age when most of us prefer to live with no authority and no restraints. In my recent devotions I read Psalm 30:4 where the Psalmist said we should “give thanks at the remembrance of [God’s] holiness.” God’s is certainly a holy God and we are definitely commanded to pursue godliness and to live holy lives (see I Timothy 4:6-8 and 1 Peter 1:14-16). So, where do you draw the line?
My guess is that answers to this question would be all over the place. Some may not care one way or the other although they likely wouldn’t say it quite that way. “It doesn’t really matter how you live as long as your heart is in the right place,” is sometimes how we phrase that. Bring up issues in any group discussion (just for fun try social drinking, music, or dress) and you will quickly see that some don’t care one way or the other and that some feel very strongly about being judged (how dare you tell me what I can or can’t do) and that some have definite opinions about how we should live our lives. The issue of the “heart” is often used as an appeal and sometimes as a judgement call. I recently posted a statement encouraging women to be wise about posting social media photos of themselves in bathing suits or bikinis. Some of the feedback stated that it doesn’t matter what a person wears; the only thing that really matters is whether or not the viewer’s heart is right. I found that very interesting!
Obviously there are strong feelings and our answers really do seem to be all over the place. So the question remains: where do you draw the line? May I make a simple suggestion and offer a few challenges?
For those of us who are Christians, there is a better way to live. In fact, I believe that if we aren’t living this better way, we aren’t living Christianity and we really are worldly and in need of revival. What is the better way? It is on purpose aligning my life by the teaching of God’s Word through the strength of the Holy Spirit. “What does the Bible say” is often a better question than “What would Jesus do?” I honor those to my right who are searching the Scriptures and who are applying them to their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. I respect those to my left who are doing the same. My fear is that most of us are not living this way. We live by what is acceptable in the church’s culture (or worse – in the world’s culture). We live by our preferences. We live by our upbringing. We live by whatever we like. We live by our traditions. Whether you are more to the right or to the left, living this way is a failure of the grace of God.
We are to hide God’s word in our hearts (see Psalm 119:11), which means we are to know God’s Word and apply God’s Word to our thinking, our emotions, and our decisions. Is that how you are living? Consider my three “just for fun” topics above. What is your position on social drinking, music, or dress? Are you godly and holy in that position because you are on purpose aligning your life to the teaching of the Bible through the strength of the Holy Spirit? We are warned heavily about alcohol, so are you applying those warnings to your life? Through our music we are to learn the truths of God’s Word, strengthen others to do likewise, and allow its melody to be the emphasis of our heart (Ephesians 5:19/Colossians 3:16). Are we making choices that embrace these truths? In dress, we are to emphasize distinction and purity and modesty, so are we on purpose applying God’s Word to our lives and to our families? I am only mentioning three areas of discussion, but the list should cover every area of our lives.
I know that we can sometimes arrive at different applications, but my challenge is that all of us should on purpose align our lives by the teaching of the God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. Am I? I sure want to do so. Are you? I hope you will too.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,