Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Power of a Holy Life

In the summer of my 15th year, I asked my parents if I could go visit my uncle Tim.  Tim was ten years older than me, which meant when I was 8 years old, he was a senior in high school.  To me, he was a kid, but one who got to do cool things like drive a car, play on the football team, and hang out with other teenagers.  Even better, he paid attention to me.  In the years since then, Tim had gone off to college, gotten married, and had gone to seminary in Ft Worth to prepare for the ministry.  So my parents drove me to Austin, where they put me on a bus bound for Ft Worth.  It was the first big trip I had ever taken on my own.  I spent a week there with my aunt and uncle and their friends, all of whom were seminary students or their spouses.  At the end of that week, I made a decision.  I didn’t know any people my age who were like my uncle and his friends, but when I went off to college, I would seek out people like that.  That decision changed my life.  When I got to UH, I immediately joined the Baptist Student Ministry.  There’s this idea with a lot of Christians that if you let your kid go off to a state college, he’ll lose his faith.  That certainly wasn’t the case for me; my faith in Christ came of age during my time there.  Best of all, I met my wife, Carrie, there.  As it turns out, that week in Ft Worth was one of the defining moments of my young life.
            What was it about my uncle and his friends that was so influential?  We didn’t have any deep conversations that I can remember.  We talked about sports, music, movies…the same stuff most people talk about.  All I can say is that those young men and women were different from any of the young people I knew back home.  They were different in a way that made me want what they had, and it made me want to know their God better.  That, to me, is holiness.  Now, I know the term “holy” is not a word we usually associate with attractiveness.  I rarely meet anyone who says, “I sure would like to be more holy.”  We associate holiness with fat, red-faced preachers who tell everyone they’re going to Hay-ell and that God is happy about that fact, or with old women who wear their hair in a tight bun and scowl at anyone who looks like they might be enjoying life.  But I believe that a truly holy life is the most compelling, attractive thing you’ll ever see.  It is the best advertisement for Jesus Christ in the world.  As we continue to talk about representing our Lord in a non-believing culture, we have to talk about what it means to be holy.  This Sunday, I want to look at the life of a man so holy, he changed two different empires.  I want you to consider whether or not you want to live such a life.

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