Ornamental Holiness or Organic Worship

Jesus is interested in organic purity and not an ornamental pretense; this is the only sort of obedience and external righteousness that pleases him,

Do you see that you have the constant temptation to look at Christ and the Christian religion as if they were a heavenly cosmetology program? Too often you see Jesus as the health coach, the personal stylist, or the cosmetic surgeon interested in making beautiful the outside. You are tempted to see Jesus as the one who has come to help you conceal your flaws, camouflage your failings, and cover your deficiencies.

 

Do you know what Spanx are? They are discreet, sliming, undergarments designed to keep everything tight, conceal the truth, and improve your figure. You do not have to exercise to look better. You do not have to eat differently to enjoy a more hour-glass shape. You only need to purchase their product, squeeze yourself into their mold, and hold your breath.

Are you familiar with the company Hair Cubed and the product they market? They offer a hairspray of colored microfibers to be applied to the noggin. Various colors are offered, and these fibrous “hairs” are designed to mix with your own hair so the application can go incognito. Imagine that, you do not have to grow new follicles. You do not have to pay for expensive hair transplants. All you have to do is log on to the web, order a box of their product, spray away, and then make sure you stay away from fire and rain.

Need a Hollywood smile? Not interested in braces and expensive dental procedures? Well then, perhaps you should visit snaponsmile.com. There, teeth await, at least of the snap-on variety. Instantly, you can have a tray of teeth which will cover your missing, stained, flawed, or misaligned incisors and molars. For less money, in less time, and with almost no effort, you too can have a million-dollar smile, at least from a distance.

Why are such products in high demand? Why are you willing to spend a tremendous amount of money to quickly, easily, and cheaply cover that which is imperfect?

  • Is it not because you are passionate to look good in your own eyes?
  • Is it not also because you long to look acceptable in the eyes of your neighbors?
  • Is it not also because you have not the resources to actually fix the problem that has resulted in your less-than-desirable consequences?

Do you see the similarity in your spiritual life?

  • Aren’t you interested in looking excellent and respectable in your own eyes?
  • Aren’t you interested in looking excellent and respectable in your neighbors’ eyes?
  • Aren’t you interested in a cover-up because cannot fix the problem that results in your less-than-desirable consequences?

Do you see that you have the constant temptation to look at Christ and the Christian religion as if they were a heavenly cosmetology program? Too often you see Jesus as the health coach, the personal stylist, or the cosmetic surgeon interested in making beautiful the outside. You are tempted to see Jesus as the one who has come to help you conceal your flaws, camouflage your failings, and cover your deficiencies.

However, you are wrong, at least in some of your thinking.

It is true, Jesus Christ is not satisfied with your recognizable, seen, external, sinful deficiencies. He too is concerned with appearance, reputation, testimony, and a faithful track-record. He desires that you walk in holiness. He commands you to let your light shine in a way that men can see it and glorify the Heavenly Father. You are to be an example of the believer. You are to be like beautiful cities on a hill. You are to be seen as worshipers hungry to keep his Law, and it is expected that you would mature as you walk down the road of life.

But know this, he is not satisfied, in any way, with superficial cover-ups. As a matter of fact, he sorrows over those who keep the outside of the cup washed while neglecting the inside. He mourns over those who are like white-washed sepulchers. He gets angry at unbelieving Pharisees who walk about with pristine exteriors but are inwardly corrupt.

Jesus is interested in ORGANIC PURITY and not an ORNAMENTAL PRETENSE. This is the only sort of obedience and external righteousness that pleases him, and this only happens as a consequence of the Gospel.

  • Because he has elected you from the foundation of the world …
  • Because he came to earth, lived, and died for you …
  • Because he regenerates, justifies, adopts, saints, and indwells you …
  • Because he promises to finish that which he began …
  • He causes beautiful, external, ORGANIC fruit to flow forth from your holy soul.

Therefore, how ought you — who are interested in the externally beautiful, Christ-honoring life — to respond to this truth? Do what you did at the beginning. Do what you did back in the day of your conversion. Do what sinners do. Hear the Gospel, believe the Gospel, and then spend some sweet time in Gospel-prayer. Confess your sin. Call upon your Savior. Enjoy his gracious benefits, and request his assistance as your Lover and your Lord. Pray in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, keep step with the Spirit, and be filled afresh by the Spirit. Then enjoy the experience of the Fruit of the Spirit eking out of your soul and transforming your walk. Friends, this is much more than ORNAMENTAL HOLINESS; this is ORGANIC WORSHIP.

Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.