Cadet Jennifer Henson reflects on DISTRACTED BY HOLINESS
Distracted By Holiness
By Jennifer Henson
1 Peter 1: 15 “Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.”
It takes intention to pause in a fast-paced world because something always seems to be calling us: another email, another deadline, another load of laundry. This long list of ready-to-distract-me-somethings is part of why cultivating a relationship with God can be a challenge. You see, I crave a relationship with Jesus that is deeper than religious tradition and cultural norms. I long to sense the heart-palpitating awareness of His presence. I desire His truth to transform my mind. After all, I’m a pastor in training, I should be soaking in Christ’s presence all of the time, right? Well, as life would have it, this isn’t always my reality, and I don’t think I’m alone. Recognizing the intention needed to nurture our relationship with Jesus, CFOT recently set aside time on its calendar to facilitate a Holiness Conference. The conference grew out of the exhortation in 1 Peter 1:15 to be holy, just as God is holy. “Cultivating a Life of Holiness” was the conference tag line, and is a reflection of our intentional cooperation in God’s regenerative work in our lives. Throughout the conference we considered what it meant to be set apart for God.
The four-day conference began at CFOT, in downtown Winnipeg, and concluded two-hours north of the city at Hecla Resort where we were afforded the opportunity to enjoy a different pace of life: one that opened us up to noticing the movement of God’s Spirit in and around us. We were joined by special guests General (Ret.) Paul and Commissioner Kay Rader for the four days, and sat under their teaching for eight out of the nine sessions. Included in these sessions were one public meeting, which was live streamed, and an evening of prayer stations. Woven throughout the sessions was a focus on holy living in our family units, and Commissioner Kay spoke into this on a few occasions, twice with the CFOT children present. Commissioner Kay taught that when we submit to the One who makes us holy, it will make a difference in how we live. It will show up in how we respond to interruptions, it will be evidenced in our desire to sneak away for quiet moments with Jesus, it will be displayed in how we treat others. In General Rader’s sessions he taught about The Salvation Army’s long history with holiness teachings, particularly the influence of Brengle and Coutts. He stressed that if we desire Christ’s holiness to be seen in our lives, then our focus needs to be on encounters with the living Christ. General Rader also spoke into the tensions Christians face today living in a “pornified culture” and how purity should be a life-long pursuit for every believer.
Several stories were shared throughout the conference of individuals who have voiced their desires of being transformed into the likeness of Christ, for this is what holiness is. One story included an individual’s prayer: “More of You Lord!” to which was heard the tender reply, “Yes, more of you dear child.” As I reflected on this dialogue I observed the truth that despite desires, I still often live a life of try without triumph. Why? Maybe the answer can be found in Philippians 2, which General Rader spoke about in the last session. It is here that we see the pattern set by Christ: a life of self-emptying for the sake of others and to the glory of God. I was challenged by the thought that God’s holiness will only be reflected in my life when I surrender to Christ’s perfect example of humility and servanthood. The mystery of this transformation has something to do with my surrender: the times when I say, “This is it Lord, You can have all of me.” Yet God alone does the transformative work. My part is to cooperate with what He’s doing.
General Rader’s father once asked Brengle what he was tempted by, to which he replied, “Allowing my soul to get distracted from my Saviour.” This struck me as a modern answer to an ancient problem. What distracts me? What calls me away from Jesus? Will I surrender to His regenerative work? Do I want to be transformed into the likeness of Christ? Thank God that He can even transform my desires! Trusting that God is cultivating His holiness in me, I say yes to His movements. As I walk in surrender and sensitivity to Him, I recommit my desire for transformation and say, “This is it Lord, You can have all of me.”