-The following article is an excerpt from this Fall’s Live Oak Leaflet.-
The Holiness Tradition
“Do the next thing you know to be right.”
Dallas Willard’s comment on holiness floated into my consciousness as I sat quietly one morning. But I knew I had been living by similar sounding, though fundamentally different approach:
“Do the next thing.”
It had been a particularly busy week, and my routine had looked something like this: Plow ahead through the responsibilities of the day, especially the urgent things. Check them off the list. Head to pillow. Collapse. Next day, repeat. “What,” I asked myself, “are the unstated goals here? Finish the to-dos? Impossible! Survive the day? Barely. Surely, I am made for more, but in my hurry I easily forget exactly what that is.”
Applying the Holiness Tradition at Live Oak
Richard Foster reminds me, “…the Holiness Tradition constantly holds before us the ultimate goal of the Christian life: an ever deeper formation of the inner personality so as to reflect the glory and goodness of God.”(Streams, pg. 85) The Holiness Tradition’s focus on intentional formation is a far cry from my typical reactionary response to whatever falls into my lap in a day. But, the Holiness Tradition calls me to be “response-able, able to respond appropriately to the demands of life” (pg 82) and to focus “upon the inward re-formation of the heart and the development of ‘holy habits’” (pg 62). Foster stresses these are not rules and regulations, but a sustained attention to the heart. Further, holiness is progress, not perfectionism.
This progress is not a “works righteousness,” but it does require my effort!
By practicing spiritual disciplines, fostering companionship with other believers, and courageously continuing on towards holiness even when we fail and fall, we open ourselves to partnership with God as He, by grace over a lifetime, transforms us into the likeness of his Son.
Heart, habits, holiness. God’s work. My work.
Wendy Cox, Mathematics G5 & G6