(By Lige Jeter)
The Church of the Nazarene was founded upon holiness, leading its followers into the experience of entire sanctification. Without being judgmental, given the laissez-faire direction many have chosen drifting away from moral living, the church can no longer ignore its spiritual state and continue on its current path. Unless we return to holiness, its teaching, and experience, as warned in (1 Samuel 4: 21) we may as well write “Ichabod” over our door “The glory has departed.”
If the church ever needed to return to its beginning heritage, it is now. When was the last time you saw someone redeemed from sin or sanctified at an altar of prayer? How long has it been since you heard a message concerning salvation or sanctification. Has the church lost its edge or have we “Misplaced it?” To misplace something simply means to leave it in the wrong place, or to lose it, temporarily forgetting where you placed it. The normal thing to assume is that it will still be there when and if we search for it.
Do not take this as one throwing stones or casting aspersions, nor slandering the church or saying anything false or malicious. Only to probe the question “Has the church lost its edge or have we misplaced it?” A large number of those professing a relationship with Christ upon leaving the church service conduct their lives on par with those in the world who do not profess anything. It is a sad day in Christendom when it becomes difficult to distinguish the church group by their behavior from the un-churched. The church is allowing customs that are pagan in nature and questionable teaching (as Manny has pointed out) in our Churches, Universities, and Seminary that weakens God’s word in truth and provide no spiritual benefit to those who practice or endorse them.
Holiness was and continues to be, the Biblical standard for living. The command to live a holy life is found in both the Old and New Testament. “Be holy for I am holy (Leviticus 11: 44) and (1 Peter 1: 16).” In the Old Testament, man was not only to worship God, but was to imitate Him in their lifestyle. Their lives were to be a carbon copy of their Creator reflecting His moral character. Nothing that suggested even the least corrupt can be associated with God. They believed because they were commanded to be holy, which carried a dual responsibility, one positive and the other negative. The positive is; they are to emulate God, and keep His laws and do the right things. The negative and most difficult to achieve was the withdrawal from things impure and loathsome, and not to do the things you should abstain.
It was the duty of every Israelite to strive as was attainable under the law, whether it was physical or spiritual. They were to avoid whatever would defile them and keep them from living holy lives. The intention of imitating God may have had its’ roots in the Old Testament, but it also found its way into the New Testament. Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Philippians gives support to this. “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5: 1).” “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2: 5 – 6).”
For moral reasons, correctly imitating God is in no way robbing God of what rightfully belongs to Him. To the contrary, we are ascribing to God what is His already. Jesus as our example while here upon earth was to glorify God through His life, and do the work that He was to accomplish. Our role is to emulate that of a servant, as Christ taught His disciples. Pointing out our Lord’s interest now becomes our interest.
Jesus asked the question in Matthew 6: “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” The light Jesus is talking about has a direct correlation to our conscience that regulates or controls our spiritual conduct. If our conscience is impaired, meaning not focused heavenward, it will become distorted and take on a different character determined by the amount of darkness that has crept into the church.