Summary: When Jesus sets us apart, heals us and wakes us up to God, he invites us to walk with him in holiness.
How Do We Respond to God?
Pastor Jim Luthy
Near the beginning of the movie, "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang," Professor Potts its traveling down the road in Chitty with his two children when they suddenly veer to avoid hitting a woman in a lovely and pure white dress driving along in her car. The woman loses control of her vehicle, coming to a stop in the middle of a shallow pond. Being the gentleman he is, Professor Potts proceeds to wade out into the pond and rescue Truly Scrumptious. He carries her back across the pond to his car, where she is introduced to his children and the adventure with the magic car begins.
Like Professor Potts, Jesus is traveling a road. Unlike Professor Potts, Jesus travels that road without fault, perfect in every way. It is the Way of Holiness.
Quite frequently, when you and I stumble across that way, we tend to crash and burn. We rumble around doing things our way only to find our lives a mess and God a long way off. We bumble around with all our good deeds supposing they will cleanse our conscience. We fumble away the truth that the only way to God the Father is through faith in the Son. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23, "we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." (NIV) The Way of Holiness is a stumbling block to the world. All of our rumblin’, bumblin’, and stumblin’, leaves us stranded off the Way in a pool of condemnation or despair or pain or worry.
But like Professor Potts rescuing Truly Scrumptious and taking her along his way, Jesus came in the flesh to rescue us, spilled his blood to save us, and places before us a highway on which we can be on an adventure with him and his family.
"Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you…and a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return." (Isaiah 35:4, 8-10a; NIV)
We have already seen that when God comes to us to save us, he brings healing in his wings and he gives us his Holy Spirit to awaken us spiritually. He gives us eyes to see, ears to hear, and strengthens us to walk in his ways. But at that point, having been healed and awakened, we must get on board with him and travel on his way. As a popular Vineyard song invites us, "Hop on the Bus! God’s on the move! There’s a seat for me. There’s a seat for you. It don’t matter what you’ve done, if you believe in his Son and what he’s done and what he’ll do." That bus is going in a different direction than the rest of the world. It is a journey separate from the journeys of other men and even other religions. It is the Way of Holiness.
Let me be clear that the Way of Holiness is not about driving the bus, it’s about being on the bus. You don’t have to drive, you just need to remain seated.
Isaiah used the image of walking. Makes sense, doesn’t it, since buses were more than 2500 years from being invented and, when it comes to mass transit of the day, camels didn’t make very good imagery! When Jesus sets us apart, heals us and wakes us up to God, he invites us to walk with him in holiness. The objective is not to walk with the crowd, because the crowd is too often heading the wrong way. Nor is the objective to walk on our own, because left on our own we eventually either become afraid or tired until we give up and roast in the desert or mix in with the misguided crowd. The objective is simply to walk with Jesus. He is the Way. He knows the Way. And he has been where he is taking you.
So, how do we respond to God when he comes to us? We get on board with Jesus and walk in the Way of Holiness.
What comes to your mind as you think of a "way?" The first characteristic of a "way" that comes to my mind is a journey. When God comes to us, he invites us on a journey.
Two things stand out to me about a journey. First of all, every journey has a starting point. The image is there in Isaiah, "and a highway will be there." Do you, like me, picture a freeway that is right before you that you haven’t merged onto yet? The Way of Holiness is right before us, but we must decide to travel on it. The starting point to this journey is decision. You must decide if you want to be holy. You must decide if the journey is worth the prize. There are plenty of people in the church who believe in Jesus as Savior, but will not get on this road of holiness. Is there anyone who does not cherish the idea of avoiding judgment? Is there a soul who would not seize the prize of heaven if it were placed before him? But the journey to heaven travels along a narrow path from which we are commanded not to swerve to the left or right. It costs us everything. Very few are willing to travel the road when it is placed before them.