Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a Call to Holiness?
Meanwhile, holiness is viewed as dated and out of style by many Americans. Picture him in a polyester, buttoned-up-to-the-collar shirt and thick glasses perched on a hawkish nose. Holiness is often seen as an uptight prude, vacuuming every last drop of fun out of the room.
Both portrayals fail to capture the wonders of grace and holiness.
Grace is unmerited favor. It is the assurance that God remains committed to the work he has begun in us. Grace gently reminds us that the reservoirs of God's goodness will never run dry. Grace greets us with open arms when we finally realize our performance-based lifestyle will never work. Grace reminds us that everyone is invited to God's party—no one is beyond redemption or restoration.
Meanwhile, holiness reminds us that though God loves us just as we are, right where we are, his love does not end there. God's love wants to transform us and take us to higher places. Holiness confronts us when we're tempted to take shortcuts, compromise, or tell ourselves that the "little" things don't really matter.
Holiness provides a quick kick in the rear when we begin to settle in our journey with God. Holiness reminds us we can always become more Christlike. Holiness calls us to live in the world but act set apart.
So are American Christians in need of a message of grace or a call to more holiness? What we need is a message of "groliness"—a rich, textured blend of both. Grace and holiness are best friends meant to walk hand in hand in our lives. Holiness reminds us of our need for grace. We will always fall short of the call to holiness without God's free gift. Grace calls us to greater holiness and turns our eyes from self-righteousness to Jesus' self-sacrifice.
Remember the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. On the days we find ourselves with the big brother's holier-than-thou attitude, we need to be reminded of the message of grace. And on the days we find ourselves like the little brother, tempted to abuse our freedom in Christ, we need to be reminded of the call to holiness. The message of groliness invites us to experience the loving embrace of our Father and to grow into the fullness of all God has for us.