Summary: Introduction to a series drawn from the work of JI Packer, "Rediscovering Holiness". We don’t talk much about holiness anymore, but how important is holiness to Christian life? Is holiness old fashioned and out of date?
Is Holiness Passé?
Cascades Fellowship CRC, JX MI
February 13, 2005 (1st Sunday of Lent)
Part 1 of Rediscovering Holiness
In the February 5 edition of the Citizen Patriot the headline read “JPS faces $3 million shortfall.” In recent weeks we have read of a shortfall in the JCC budget as well. Even the state is struggling – Gov. Granholm is considering a 2 billion dollar bond or loan to help pay for existing programs and develop new ones. Everywhere we look, our community needs money. Somehow, some way we have to pump more liquid funds into our coffers.
Now, I can’t say that I have all the answers – especially on the state level. But as I thought about this over the past week, I think I have found a solution for our budget problems in Jackson County. I have found a simple, yet workable plan that with a little extra effort can help shrink the shortfall.
Everyone drive faster. If we all use a little extra energy to push our accelerators a little further down, I think the accumulative affect will be a huge swell of cash into our local economy. Follow me here.
If we are driving faster, we are using more gas, which menas we must buy more gas. This, in turn, leads to greater revenues that are taxable – tax being the primary means to fund local governments. But that is not all.
Faster speeds also mean more fender benders, which means an increase in auto-body work, auto sales, tires sales, auto repairs, increases in insurance, health care services, etc. These increases lead to increases in other industries – it would simply take too long to list them all, so I will let your imagination run wild. All these increases lead to a greater tax base, and so on and so forth. But this is not all.
One of the real beauties of this plan is that it has built in a mechanism to flood money immediately into the system. With the increase in speed would also come an increase in speeding and moving violation tickets. The immediate influx of revenue this would generate might all by itself offset the shortfall. After all, where violation of the law abounds, cash abounds all the more to pay the fines we incur.
Now, please note that as I present this plan to you, I do so tongue firmly planted in my cheek. This plan is just plain silly. Despite rather lame attempt at rationale for the plan, the flaws in the plan are obvious. Only an oaf would seriously suggest such remedy.
Yet, this is just the sort of argument that the apostle Paul faced in his missionary journeys. No, Paul didn’t have to worry about cars or speeding tickets as a revenue source for a city. But he heard this argument in relation to grace. That’s why Romans 6:15-23 makes it into the letter he wrote to the church in Rome.
Really, this part of Paul’s letter begins in Romans 6:1 with these words, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome with the anticipation that he would be visiting them soon. Up until this point in Paul’s ministry, he and the church in Rome only knew each other by reputation. So he is writing to introduce himself and the gospel he has been commissioned to preach.
As he lays out his theology, he begins with the universal problem of mankind – sin. None of us escape it, we all fall prey to its infection. We come from the womb perverse and bent little creatures inclined to rage against mention of dependency upon a Creator. We want to be self-made, self-assured and self-reliant. We’d rather worship animals, the stars, the sun, especially ourselves rather than God. We purposely stifle the truth, suffocating it in layers of self-deceit and wishful thinking that there is no God. So much so, that we miss the countless expressions of God’s presence and glory in the world around us. In other words, we can claim ignorance, but that is no excuse. We were blind toward God because we closed our eyes. We were deaf toward him because we stopped up our ears.
After Paul makes it clear that we all have this huge problem, he tells us what God has done about it. When we were helpless to do anything for ourselves – when we were so indifferent, we weren’t even losing sleep over being at odds with God – God sent his Son. When the time was ripe, Jesus Christ came in human flesh and lived among us the kind of life God intended man to live. And, then, beyond all hope, Jesus traded his sinless life for our sinful life on the cross. Just as death entered into the world through the disobedience of one man, so through Christ’s obedience the many are brought to life.