Written By: Wesleyan Holiness Study Project, Azusa, California, March 2007.
As leaders press forward in living out holiness in their ministry, the following represents themes they will need to consider carefully in future years. We offer this as an invitation to engage together in unity around the transforming message entrusted to our care.
Dimensions of Holiness
Holiness has several dimensions. Within each dimension there are contrasting realities. It is important to embrace both elements of each contrast in order to experience and practice holiness in its completeness.
Individual and Corporate: We are called to be holy persons individually and to be a holy people corporately. The corporate aspect of holiness which is prominent in Scripture needs to be emphasized again in this time and culture.
Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-centered: The Holy Spirit’s work within us leads to conformity to the person of Jesus Christ. Neither should be expressed without the other.
Development and End: God has an ultimate purpose for each person, which is to be like Jesus Christ. Teaching on development in the Christian life should keep the end of Christ-likeness in view.
Crisis and Process: A definite work of God’s grace in our hearts and our ongoing cooperation to his grace are to be equally emphasized.
Blessings and Suffering: Full union with Jesus Christ brings many blessings but also a sharing of his sufferings.
Separation and Incarnation: Holy people are in but not of the world. Holiness requires both separation and redemptive, reconciling, and restorative engagement.
Forms and Essence: Holiness always expresses itself in particular forms, which are the ways in which it is translated into life and action. But the forms must not be confused with the essence of holiness itself.
How do you balance these contrasting realities in your personal life and ministry? Where do you see the need for greater balance?
Essence of Holiness
The essence of holiness is that God is holy and calls us to be a holy people. The challenge is reflecting Jesus Christ in a relevant and contextual way that transcends social location and diversity. Indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, holy people live and love like Jesus Christ. Walking intimately with him overflows in compassion and advocacy for those whom God loves.
How can you effectively embody holiness in the context where you are now, personally and in ministry?
Catholicity of Holiness
Although differences have led to fragmentation in churches, holiness invites unity. God wants to heal—to make whole—the brokenness of people, churches, and society. The impact of holiness goes beyond boundaries of tradition, theology, gender, ethnicity, and time to affect people and institutional structures. The resulting healing unites all Christians in wholeness, growing up into Christ-likeness. The message of holiness involves conversation and engagement with others.
What conversations and actions do you need to engage in to bring healing to people, churches, and society?
Holiness and Culture
Holiness people, while themselves influenced by culture, must convey the holiness message within multiple cultures. Culture affects the holiness message and churches because we are socially shaped human beings. Culture challenges us to mediate holiness in ways that are relevant and transforming without losing the integrity of the message.
How do we exegete culture and subculture in order to achieve transformation? How might you embody the holiness message in your immediate pastoral setting?
Holiness and Community
Individual and corporate holiness require that faith communities pursue organizational structures, processes, and content that promote radical obedience to Jesus Christ. Holiness does not develop in isolation from other believers and faith communities that provide spiritual support and accountability.
What communal structures, processes, and content would help promote radical obedience to Jesus Christ, personally and in ministry?
Holiness and Social Concern
Social engagement is an essential incarnational expression of personal and social holiness. It includes ministry among the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized. Holiness requires a response to the world’s deepest and starkest needs. Social engagement is the continuing work of Jesus Christ in and through the church by the Holy Spirit for the world.
Since proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor is essential, how do you embody the continuing personal and social engagement with the disenfranchised and marginalized
Christians live in environments of changing language. They must communicate a holiness message in ways that are clear, relevant, and winsome. The message of holiness often has been communicated with terms and paradigms that are not understood today.
What terms and paradigms could you use to communicate the holiness message in a compelling way?
Wesleyan Holiness Study Project
28 March 2007