Do you have any regrets?
I had a lunch with an elderly woman recently, a woman whom I’ve enjoyed Christian fellowship with for years. This woman is filled with wisdom and insights and knowledge. So when I asked her about the biggest regret of her life, I knew she’d respond well. But I didn’t know her words would be so impactful.
“Pursue holiness,” she responded.
“If I would have known that God wanted me to pursue holiness when I was in my twenties, that would have changed the trajectory of my life, and saved me a lot of heartache. Young people need to learn how to pursue holiness.”
I was speechless. And I’m a blogger.
Is there a more important message for young Christians today?
This is a good word not just for young Christians, but all Christians, yes. But I think this is something young Christians particularly need. We young folk tend to be more concerned with being cool than being holy. And this is a problem. Paul tells us that God saved us so that we might be holy (Ephesians 1:4) — a pursuit that Christians can seek with effort, without being self-justifying.
Still, “pursue holiness” may seem daunting or ambiguous. So here’s a few reminders for young Christians on this great pursuit.
1) Recognize that the pursuit of holiness is important.
God wants you to pursue holiness. Seems obvious, right? It’s not. Many young Christians are not hearing this message. It needs to be seasoned with grace, of course, but mentioned often in our pulpits, in our books, in our posts. The first step is recognition.
2) Get mentors.
To be fair, it’s hard to find mentors. Really hard. People are busy and have a hard enough time looking out for themselves let alone the soul of another. But don’t give up. Pray that God will give you mentors, and that he will surround you with older, wiser Christians.
3) Develop a strong devotional life.
I’m always amazed at how many Christians I meet who rarely spend time alone with God. Community is vital (more on that in a bit), but the regular rhythm of personal devotions is essential, one that young Christians would do well to develop sooner than later.
4) Read books on holiness.
I don’t say this often, but R.C. Sproul’s book, The Holiness of God, changed my life, and is (and will probably remain) one of the best books I’ve ever read. I had been a Christian for years and knew little about God’s holiness. Sproul paints a picture of God’s holiness that, for me, changed the way I viewed the Christian life. I wish every Christian would read it.
Of course, it’s easy to read books on holiness and not pursue holiness. But here’s a few that may help:
- The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
- The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
- The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
- Holiness by J.C. Ryle
5) Stay in community.
Lone rangers are dead rangers. To pursue holiness, you need the church. Stay in community. God’s people will help you become more like Christ.
6) Remember that holiness is about grace-driven effort.
It’s easy to get legalistic when talking about holiness. But I think too many Christians are quick to throw up the legalism flag when checked on this matter, partly to hide immaturity or to defend some idol. Yet, it’s easy to let the pendulum swing too far on either side. There needs to be a balance. You will fail often in this pursuit, and that’s okay: because Jesus is for failures and failures only. But don’t become so holy that you stop trying. As Kevin DeYoung says, “Let’s not be more ‘gospel-centered’ than the Bible. The Bible is not afraid of words like striving, fighting, effort, and work.”
What do you think?
I needed to write this piece more than you needed to read it. I’ve by no means perfected holiness, but who has? Glorification will come for God’s elect. But now, it’s sanctification. It’s enjoying Jesus and striving to become more like him. This message of holiness is for you and I. And I hope you take heed. After all, I don’t want you to end up with the same regret.
This article was originally published at gospelrelevance.com. Used with permission.
Publication date: August 12, 2016