Guest / Limited Access /

Pick Holiness

Will Willimon is a retired bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and professor of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School.

While we always need grace—grace defined by us Methodists as the gratuitous power of God to enable us to live transformed lives for God—Americans today are in desperate need of the disciplines of holiness. As a pastor, I know firsthand the morally chaotic, sadly devastated lives of those who thought it was possible to be good without God. The wreckage and superficiality of undisciplined lives surround us—and I'm not just talking about Donald Trump.

We Wesleyans believe that holiness is evidence of grace working in us. Too often, popular evangelical Christianity has stressed grace as what God in Christ has done for us; holiness churches stress grace as what God is daily doing in us and through us. Holiness is a name for what happens to us when a powerful, life-changing God commandeers our lives.

Grace is more than some benign, sweet syrup poured over us by a God who only says, "I love you just as you are; promise me you won't change a thing." Holiness of heart and life demonstrates to the world that Christ is able to not only love us as we are but also change us into what he would have us be. Holiness is Christ not only forgiving our sin but also redeeming us and utilizing us for his work in the world.

In other words, holiness is God's grace in action, enlisting us to work for God's will in the world.

Holiness gives us the courage to be in but not of the world. Flaccid Christians reduce Christianity to a personal feeling and are thereby left defenseless against the lures of American consumerist, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only The White Umbrella
Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking
RecommendedJohn Calvin
John Calvin
Father of the Reformed faith
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Christianity Today
Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a Call to ...
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.