Last two chapters of The Pursuit of Holiness touch on making it stick in every day life. He admits that we are called to be holy while living in a very unholy world. Surrounded by images and values and actions trying to draw us away or beat us down. We must be aware and prepared for these assaults. We must have a plan, have conviction to live by our Christian values. He mentions that one way to do reinforce this is to publicly declare our status as a Christian. In a gracious manner, not to beat people with it. We do know that expectations will be different if it is known that we are (or say we are) Christian. Sure, it may lead some to try even harder to tempt us or to disgust us, but it also validates our response when we refuse the temptation. And most of the people want to see that obedience on our part, even while they are cynical enough to expect us to give in.
He also mentions that our response shouldn’t just be defensive. We are called to be salt and light and our steadfast witness is combating moral and spiritual decay. But he doesn’t mean shoving our faith on others. Interesting reading this chapter after this blog post from earlier today. She has some sharp comments, about the current need to convert as many people as necessary being a terribly impersonal and misguided (something stronger perhaps?) attitude today. And about the attitudes toward people who don’t live as if every single word had to be aimed at converting someone. We are called to live a holy life and hopefully others will be intrigued and encouraged by that. Many others will also be offended by that.
Bridges provides an example of Henry Clay Trumbull, an evangelist, riding on a train beside a young man drinking quite steadily. Each time he would take a swig, the man would offer some to Trumbull who would politely decline. Notice, Trumbull didn’t frown in judgment or initiate some monologue telling the man how awful it was to be drinking so heavily. Finally the young man started the conversation, saying he supposed Mr. Trumbull thought he was a pretty touch fellow. Trumbull’s response was “I think you’re a most generous-hearted fellow.” That is a personal conversation, and probably a good bit of forbearance as well.
The way to live in this unholy world, as we’ve heard throughout this book, is to stay in the Word. Let the Word cleanse our minds of the pollution that surrounds us, and shape and encourage us to seek God and His glory.
The last chapter is about the joy of living a holy life. We should not be a depressed or sour people. If we are obeying God, we are living the only way that can bring true joy. If we are in rebellion against God, and sinning, then the pleasure will not last and the results will (eventually) catch up with us, here in this life and in eternity. But as we obey the will of God more, we will know more pleasure. That doesn’t mean life gets easier and shinier, but that what we count as joy changes.
I’ll let Bridges have the last word.
But to experience this joy, we must make some choices. We must choose to forsake sin, not only because it is defeating to us, but because is grieves the heart of God. We must choose to count on the fact that we are dead to sin, freed from its reign and dominion, and we can now actually say no to sin. We must choose to accept our responsibility to discipline our lives for obedience.