John 20:21-22 (NIV)
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
When our son underwent the bone marrow transplant, part of the procedure is called “chemo blasting”. It is a process of bombarding the body with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is an anti-neoplastic drug that halts cell reproduction in the body. All rapidly dividing cells such as cancer can continue to produce when chemo is present. Unfortunately this also affects the person’s blood count, cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel and hair follicle among other things. The natural occurring or “normal” cells will come back with the assistance of the bone marrow transfused back into the body. However, during the process, there is a hopefully brief amount of time when the patient is severely immunocompromised and cannot tolerate infection of any kind. The body has nothing to fight back with. During that time, our family chose to halt all visitation and no one other than myself, doctors and nurses, etc. were allowed in the room with him. While no one would intentionally come to see him with a cold or obvious virus, the human body is amazing and is fighting off every bacteria, virus or small infection many times without our knowledge. The slightest contaminant to a person without immunity could ultimately kill them.
What’s up with the cancer story? Well, the other night in church, the entire congregation was singing, “Holy, holy, holy.” The more the chorus continued the more in unison it became until the very Presence of God filled the little church. It was a mighty force with angels in our midst hailing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In that moment, my mind went back to our son in the hospital. How meticulous I was in his care. The diligence of handwashing and germ control I observed in his presence to insure his recovery. I was completely conscious every moment of who came in, did they wash their hands, were they gloved up, etc. It was it that time of reflection that the Lord gave me just a glimpse of His Holiness. See God is pure and whole. There is no sin in God that is why the Blood of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, is required to draw near to Him. He is perfection. Sin would not kill God. It would kill us to come any closer in our present state. We have nothing to compare to His Excellence. Yet standing in His Presence in that place, I was completely humbled that I in my sinful state would be allowed in the Midst of such Holiness and Perfection. I was then dismayed that I am not as careful in my pursuit of the Lord as I have been with our child. What if I took the same level of care and paid the same amount of attention to my entrance into God’s Presence each day? To catch such a glimpse of His Countenance changes me every time. Holiness is not required because the Lord set us free. It is a privilege for those who seek life everlasting who now are given the gift and ability to encounter it.
I looked up the word “holy” seeking its origin. It made me laugh. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably was “that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated.” The Holiness of God and His Son, Jesus Christ are undeniable and unquestionable. Predating Judaism or Christianity – it is the very Presence of God in His Complete and Utter Sovereignty. We have been raised in a compromised state. We are tainted by sin from birth having no knowledge or experience with true and complete wholeness or purity. Of course, we do not recognize it or respect it. Our reluctance to walk with Christ in holiness is based on disbelief that it exists. God is given human qualities in order for man to connect on a comfortable level rather than raising our standard of living to God’s Glorious Standard. The defeat, discouragement and devastation that is experienced in life is a direct correlation to our unwillingness or inability to believe, trust and have faith in God. We must understand that He is holy and dedicate our life to pursuing the Lord in that state which means we must strive to be holy, too.
Isaiah 6:3-8 (NIV)
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
You know I never really considered the life of a cancer patient or caregiver until it impacted our life personally. I never thought it would be me. But once our son was diagnosed, it didn’t matter what I did before. From that moment on, I became that thing I never wanted to be and embraced it fully. Our son’s battle would not only wage a war on his body. We would be placed in a position to fight institutions and companies to provide his care. The Lord won our battle and to Him all glory is given. I share this to say that we decide the level of commitment in each pursuit. Some things that we desire to do or achieve begin with a high priority but fall down the list if inconvenient or uncomfortable. Perhaps, we decide it to be too costly. When faced with life or death, what choice is there really? Many people over the years have said to me in some way, shape or form, I don’t know how you did it. I don’t think I could have. Oh yes you could if it was your child. You would have fought the same way, endured the process. Our pursuit of the Lord is a matter of life and death…our own. However, if we do not believe in the necessity of God in our life – the passion is lost to compromise and substitutions to preserve our comfort and avoid change.
When Isaiah found himself in the Presence of God, His Holiness and Perfection surrounding him, the prophet understood just how unclean that he was. Venturing into the Throne Room of the Most High God will do that for you. The reality of the God we serve will drive us to our knees in repentance. We forget sometimes because of the radical change first experienced in coming to Christ. We compare ourselves with other people rather than the Character of God who is flawless in composition. Everything He does is just and good. There is absolutely no sin in Him. His Being is preserved whole and intact and cannot be transgressed upon. It is only through the Blood of Jesus that we dare come any closer. If one’s desire is to live in close proximity to the Lord, it will require holiness. The Word of God does not say, “Be holy because Mr. Jones is holy.” It does not tell us to be holy because our pastor is holy because surely he is not. It tells us to be holy because God is holy!
I Thessalonians 4:7-8 (NIV)
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
The modern day church for the most part has become seeker sensitive. The seats are comfortable. The climate controlled. The program perfected. The timing reasonable. It is designed to attract people. However, plagued with sin. Not to say that we cannot have buildings, furniture and sound systems in our church, but if we do not create an atmosphere that is welcoming of God’s Presence, His Holy Spirit, what is really being accomplished? Religion changes the outward appearance but a relationship with Jesus Christ changes us inside. The Love of God must be evident rather than love of self preeminent. God did not call us to be impure. Compromise is not welcome in the church and neither is condemnation. Grace is given to enable those who are weak to become strong in Christ. It does not make us a card carrying member of the secret club called Christianity. It completes us so that we can pursue holiness in the Presence of God. It does not and will not ever make sin okay. You cannot carry your sin into the Presence of God.
Do you desire the Presence of God to fill your life today? Do you want to experience God’s Power? Do you feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Do you feel broken, empty and discarded? The Lord is waiting on you. He desires nothing more than to live at peace in complete unity with His Children. He loves you. He promises good things, but too many times we want the dead and broken things instead. We pursue those things that we can see, feel and touch rather than the life faith and confident hope provide. It doesn’t have to be that way. Holiness takes us into the Presence of God. He gave us His Spirit for that purpose. When Jesus breathed on them, He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Why? To give them peace and purpose. Peace with God. Purpose to pursue. If we can just find a way into His Presence, He will do this for each of us. What did Isaiah do right after encountering the Lord and His Holiness? He said to the Lord, “Send me.” Life outside of God is pointless. It is going to end and not end well.
Galatians 5:22-24 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
When our son was in the process of his transplant, I was not willing to risk the possibility of exposure in order to entertain others. So when people would call and text asking to come see us, or even me in the lobby, I would decline the offer. It was not worth the risk of contamination. What if we lived our natural life with the same regard for sin? All sin? Even the smallest seemingly insignificant sin will block us from moving into His Presence until completely covered by the Blood of Jesus. The distance that we feel in our relationship with the Lord is directly represented by our life and pursuit of holiness. During that time with him, I became very lonely. My only connection sometimes to family and friends was online and texting. Yet, I could not risk our son’s life to comfort and pacify my own wants, needs and desires.
The Holy Spirit is the very essence of God in us. It is His Job to create clean and viable believers ready to meet the Lord face-to-face. He is the One who creates those qualities in us that defy human nature. All fruit must begin with a seed. May this be the seed of your revival today. Once planted the seed must die to produce life. What are you willing to give to the planting and revitalization of your soul? Is there something keeping you from the Lord that needs to be buried the sea of forgetfulness and covered by the Blood of Jesus. If you are human, the answer is always yes. Given the opportunity to grow that seed planted in repentance will establish roots. The Word of God is the seed we plant that kills whatever is keeping us from the Lord. Once accepted it will begin to grow, develop and mature restoring life to our soul. We must allow the Holy Spirit to take our flesh and sow it in the Word so that we will reap the reward of good fruit. The kind of fruit that God desires in our life that leads us to holiness. The cultivation of this fruit while completely done by the Holy Spirit requires us to survey the desires, passions and pursuits of our life to decide if they will lead us into His Presence in the Midst of His Holiness. I am humbled that a God so perfect wants a relationship with me. What about you? When was the last time you encountered the Lord in such a way? Have you ever? You are His Child. God loves you. He will do anything to spend time with you. The rest is up to the child.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.