Meditations by John Dean

Monday, September 26, 2011

Circus Monkey Holiness

(1 Peter 1:16 KJV) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

As far back as I can remember, the subject of holiness has always caused a debate. The interpretation of holiness varies greatly and in most cases never actually produces holiness.

For example, one group says that holiness was achieved at the cross because all of our sins were nailed to the cross with therefore we are already holy.

Another group believes that the evidence of holiness is the result of a series of stops. In other words, stop watching television, stop going to movies, stop drinking, and stop smoking and stop hanging around with folks that this group considers to be of the world. If one does these things then they believe that this is the evidence of their holiness.

The evidence of holiness to another group has to do with how they dress (particularly how the women dress). The women wear long sleeve dresses with high necks and their hem lines near their ankles. Wearing makeup is an absolute “no, no,” and short hair is totally forbidden. In other words they grow long hair and pile it high on top of their heads. Somehow they believe that these things are the evidence of their holiness.

Over the years I have had good friends in each of these groups. I think I can honestly say that all of their intentions were pure. I commend them for their outward efforts...but true holiness is a much deeper issue.

I do believe that one should have filters on their life—such as dressing modestly—in order to help them walk pure before the Lord. However, none of the above are actual filters for a life of holiness, but only disciplines for an unscriptural religious belief.

While growing up in a small town in East Texas, I had a friend whose mother was one of the most dedicated women to her church that I ever knew. Her sleeves and hem were the longest, her neck line and hair-bun were the highest, but when riled she was more that capable of ‘whooping you like a circus monkey’. This dear saint had no intention of putting up with anyone’s nonsense and everybody knew it.  As a matter of fact when she got through with you, you felt as if you had been beaten with a log chain.

When she was finished teaching you your lesson she was more than willing to pray for you to get the Holy Ghost so you could be holy like her. Of course at this point you were more than willing to agree to anything she asked. Now that was what I call ‘forced holiness’ or ‘circus monkey holiness’. I always made it a point to smile a lot when I was around this dear soul and above all I would never disagree with her.

A couple of years ago I drove through that little East Texas town and noticed that this lady’s little white framed church was now in ruins and lay helplessly on the ground.

I suppose the question still remains…is holiness an action, a look, a free gift from God or a belief? The fact is, the evidence of holiness can be a little of all the above or none of the above. I believe that true holiness is a heart issue and is capped off with a double dose of kindness and love. There is one thing that holiness is not and that is ‘circus monkey religion’ where one is forced to look or act the part, but their heart is not in it.

Forgive us for our feeble attempt to walk in true holiness when so many times we fail. Help us Lord to mature in our thinking when trying to renew our minds in order to be more and more like You. Forgive us Lord when we fail in our attempt to be a good testimony for You.

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