Monday, September 10, 2012

Thoughts on sin, holiness, self care and the misconceptions of freedom :)

**warning, multiple analogies may appear in this blog as I process visually as I write :)

I've been pondering and processing sin and holiness lately and I have some thoughts that I'm going to throw out there. These may seem a bit edgy to you. I understand that. They would have seemed that way to me a while ago. I had my thoughts and ideas about holiness and believed them to be thoroughly justified and reinforced and without need to budge. Unfortunately, I also have seen them to not really I've been doing some pondering with Jesus lately :)

I think there are some misconceptions about me floating around here lately. Because I am absolutely passionate about freedom and healing and how Jesus absolutely adores us right where we are at....and because I don't talk a whole lot about sin and the need to be holy....some people think I'm sliding down a slippery slope :)  With freedom comes sin, right? With absolute love and acceptance comes no "accountability" and more sin? With boundaries and self care comes selfishness and a living for self.

nope. not necessarily.

I believe that freedom is a lack of bondage. I also believe that sin is bondage. I don't think Jesus randomly says to avoid things because He just thought it would be fun. I think the things He tells us to stay away from are damaging to us. They are choices we make out of wounding. So, true freedom would never lead into sin! Freedom is about being so dearly loved that I don't NEED sin anymore. I don't need to choose bitterness or anger because I am freely loved and safe enough so say those things aren't good for me. The more healing and freedom I get, the LESS appealing sin is in my life!

But you are right....freedom gives the OPTION of sin. Jesus allows us to be free to choose. Without that freedom, the choices are silly. He wants us to CHOOSE Him and healing and freedom. So I can see why freedom is scary. It's like telling someone you love "you can walk away from me if you want". I've done that....actually quite a few times....and quite a few times they've taken me up on the offer! But the truth is, that my friends now who have chosen with absolute freedom to stand by my side, are much more valuable. They didn't stay my friend because they HAD to....they CHOSE to and that is a precious thing.

I remember being so scared of boundaries. "But wait," I would think, "I'm supposed to die to myself." I couldn't understand how boundaries could actually promote selflessness. Simply put, however, they do. Of course they can be misused for selfishness, but that is not their goal. The goal of self care and boundaries is to recognize that what Jesus says about me is true. I am uniquely made, called, gifted and worthy. He has made me a beautiful temple chosen by Him as His bride. Therefore, I should treat myself as such. I need to take care to make sure that I am resting and taking care of my heart and soul. It is not ok for me to be destroyed at whim. Most of the time, when we don't have boundaries, it is not because we are more selfless, it is because we think Jesus needs us to work that hard. Taking breaks and resting affirms the truth that He is God and He can take care of this world! Shockingly enough, in my own life, the more I have taken care of myself, the more of me there is to pour out onto others! I think that the friends of mine that live in relationship with me on a regular basis would say that I show greater levels of self sacrifice now than I ever did in the past. I have it in me to give now. I am filled up and taken care of so I can pour myself out at times. I also know that it's Jesus' deal to heal you - so I can walk alongside more hurting people without taking the burden on me. My friends regularly joke that my only advice is "have you asked Jesus about that?" :) I am not in ANY way saying this to brag that I'm selfless.....I know I have a long way to go to serve and love like Jesus does....but I say this to calm your fears if you have been afraid that if you approach self-care and boundaries that you will surely be a self centered person before too long :)


Here's the bottom line: I think holiness is a by-product of a life lived in intimacy with Jesus.

It's like everyone gets upset because I don't talk enough about the cookies (either the sin or the holiness, pick your cookie) and I want to scream "that's because I think it's better to talk about the process of making the batter!!!" Cookies are a by product!

Jesus said "if you love me, you will do what I command". He did NOT say 'If you do what I command, you will love me". Nope. Obedience does NOT necessarily beget love. Pursuing holiness doesn't necessarily mean you are pursuing Jesus.

However, if you pursue loving Him more, knowing Him more, walking with Him more, allowing Him deeper and deeper access into your soul.....the natural outcome is obedience and holiness.

So yeah....I don't talk about sin and holiness a bunch....because I think they are byproducts of our lives and how our hearts are oriented. I think they are problems that in large part take care of themselves if I am really seeking Him and allowing Him greater access into all areas of my heart and having Him heal and redeem those areas.

We become like the people we hang with - Alicia and I took our 6 kids out to dinner the other night. We tease that we are like sister-wives without the husband :) We shared a meal. We ordered for each others kids. We even went to discipline one kid at dinner and both said the same thing at the same time! Is that because we are twins separated at birth? Nope. It's because we spend lots of time together. We take on each other's mannerisms after a while. Just a few minutes of listening to me talk in Uganda will prove that :) I've got a killer Ugandan accent (which many, many people tease me for ;)

So it just makes sense that if we pursue Him, holiness will come out.

I read 1 Peter yesterday in the message and a few verses jumped out at me:
1:13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. (vs. 18)

5:6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

It seems like so much pressure and guilt and striving is taken off of my shoulders in these verses.   Be pulled into a life of holiness. I see that as a beautiful invitation to a fabulous party. Being pulled by the arm, gently and with excitement....I can hear Jesus say "come to the party! be holy as I am holy!" This is Him desiring to share of Himself. Not, "hey, you be this because I am". I get this. I always want my friends to be in on what I'm doing. I want them to join me in anything I think is exciting. "come do I am....because it's amazing" Its not because I think people should be like me, it's because I want to share my life with my friends.

I especially love the verse about living carefree before God because of how careful He is with me. You see, with Him I am free. Free to be me. Free to be loved completely. And you know what? When you are loved well by a person who is even more amazing than you are, you are compelled to be the best version of yourself. Sort of like in the movies when the man says to the woman, "you make me want to be a better man"  sigh :) Have you ever felt so loved by someone that you felt accepted with all of your flaws but also like they saw what you could be too? It makes you want to soar. It makes you want to blossom and bloom and be and do everything God has planned for you. This is how it is when we spend time with Jesus. We don't need to seek out holiness to make Him more happy with us. Nope. He loves us wholly and completely right where we are at....but for some reason....the more time we spend with Him, the more we want to soar and be everything He has for us. We want to get rid of the things that hold us back (the chains, the sin, the ick in our lives) and be free to dance and soar with Him.

Do I believe we can be lazy about holiness? Yep. Of course. But I think the solution is in the question we ask.

Instead of asking "are you pursuing holiness?" Maybe we should begin asking our friends "Are you traveling life as a journey with a deep consciousness of God?"  Are you taking time for your relationship?  Just like any relationship....marriage or friendship or even the beginnings of a good business or workout schedule.....are you putting the time into growing your intimacy with Him? Giving Him greater access to those areas of your life? Are you learning Him and loving Him more?

Because when we focus on intimacy - holiness is simply a beautiful by-product :)