Somehow through your experience and study, you have discovered that the doctrine and practice of holiness is a message filled with hope and optimism. You have become convinced that this message meets the hunger of our generation. You have heard the cries of young and old alike who have tired of the life offered by secularity. They have experienced the allurements of contemporary life and found them to be false and unfulfilling. One by one, they have found their way to you with two heart cries. “Pastor, I want to know Christ,” and “Pastor, I want to live like him.” And happily and confidently you are able to provide a message of hope.
When they said, “I want to know Christ,” you spoke of intimacy. You let them know that they are able to “love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength” (Matt. 22:37). God is more than just a priest who periodically forgives their wayward actions. They may know him intimately, and he can remove the bent toward sin that infects their lives. He has the power to “purify their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9), thus opening the door to deep, abiding, fellowship with Christ. You know the joy of moments when almost breathlessly you exult in the privilege of explaining there is a better way! There is something more!
We can explain to seekers that their intimacy with Christ now enables them to have the power to incarnate Christ in their world.
And when they said, “I want to live like Christ,” you speak to them of Incarnation. This is the way Jesus lived. He came to earth as a stranger, an alien, but he so loved others, he was willing to totally identify with the starving, hurting, addicted lost of this world. This Jesus was incarnated. He personified and embodied his heavenly Father. We can explain to seekers that their intimacy with Christ now enables them to have the power to incarnate Christ in their world. Human love and endurance quickly wane, when the dirt and depravity of this world hits you in the face. But the Christian perfected in holy love, now through daily intimacy with Christ, can be empowered to love and live like Jesus.
And so you are a holiness preacher. You have discovered that the biblical doctrine of holiness meets the deepest interior and exterior needs of men and women. You have discovered that this doctrine is both liberty and love. It is liberty from sin and constant struggle, and it is divine love springing up from within for humanity.
John Wesley taught that repentance was the “porch” of religion. Faith was the “door,” and holiness was religion itself.* That is why you are a holiness preacher. You don’t want to leave anyone languishing on the porch of constant repentance. You are inviting everyone to enter the door by faith and rush into the house of holiness itself. So this Sunday, be hospitable. Invite seekers into the house of holiness, where they will discover true intimacy and incarnation!
Pleased with the Prospects,
USA/Canada Regional Director
*John Wesley, "The Principals of a Methodist Father Explained," Works (city: pub. co., date), VII:472-3.