I like the account of John the Baptist in the book of John. One of my favorite lines from scripture is when John says of the odd prophet of the same name “He was not the light but came to bear witness to the light.” What I like most about that verse is it takes the pressure off. I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. I don’t have to be holy (insert a dozen major characters in scripture that weren’t.) I don’t have to be willing (insert another dozen) or skilled (here we go again.) I don’t have to be any of these things because I am not the light, Christ is the light of the world. All I do is stand and point.
Have you ever noticed that in many Christian books the author looks better than Jesus Himself? I mean Jesus looks really good, but the author looks even better, even more Godly than Christ. Christ, after all, didn’t look very Godly, which is precisely why so many “righteous” people rejected Him. He wrecked the church turning over tables. He insulted religious leadership and called them fakes. He ate and befriended prostitutes and tax gatherers. He broke religious laws. He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. I would bet that not a single Christian fundamentalist leader in America would accept Christ as a viable teacher were he here in America today. And their argument would be that He was not holy.
I don’t think these guys are hypocrites, because they would sincerely mean their rejection of Christ for the sake of Christ, but I do think they’ve bought into the idea they must be the light and bear witness to the light. And worse, I think they like being the light. I think they like playing a God role. It’s true we are the light of the world, but the light is Christ in us, not our own holiness.
And so, when we fake holiness, here are some dynamics that happen:
1. We teach people the false truth that they must be holy and perfect in order to be accepted by God. We teach them this with our emphasis on our holiness rather than Christ’s holiness.
2. We teach people we do not believe the grace of God is strong enough to cover us.
3. We make God look less holy in reference to our supposed holiness.
4. We make God intimidating.
5. The intuitive smell out we are fakes and want nothing to do with the church.
So is the key to brag about our unholiness? Not at all. We pursue holiness, but we do so in complete honesty, not as actors. We bear witness to the light.