I was raised in a conservative, holiness church. What does this entail? Well, conservative holiness churches have pretty much the same doctrine as that of the Methodists, Nazarenes, and the Wesleyans, but they still keep the dress standards that the previous denominations have let go by the wayside. They believe in salvation from your sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, and a second work of grace that gets rid of the carnal nature. However, the standards are what I want to talk about today.
In our churches, the woman wear dresses, have long hair and wear it up, don't wear jewelry--or even make-up normally, and men keep their hair cut, don't wear shorts, etc... Most holiness people of the past, and some today, do not watch TV or videos. Then they get into a lot of other things depending on the church you go to, and of what they call worldly or not. Some things are just that--"things". I have had a lot of issues in a lot of things preached over the pulpit in holiness churches as sin, when a lot of it is not in the Bible. Sometimes there are principles there, or there are common sense reasons why we do some things, but it is not Biblical. Let me use an example, I don’t wear short sleeves. Is it a sin to wear short sleeves? Probably not. I use the elbow as a limit for me. I could wear my sleeves above the elbow, and be modest as the Bible tells us to be (and be a Christian still), but I have a limit that I keep for myself. I figure if I get my sleeve above the elbow, maybe I would see another shirt that was a wee bit shorter in the sleeve area, so what is the difference? I would be still modest--but would it end there? Or maybe would someone else more vulnerable and weak than I see that I wore short sleeves, and not be able to keep the limit on how short of sleeve that I kept? Get real, folks, there is a point when the sleeve is too short--or sleeveless-- and you can see in, and it is not longer modest. Are short sleeves wrong? NO--it is my limit, and I am not imposing it on anyone. This is just an example of a commonsense reason why we do some things in the holiness movement. However, I had chafed at some of these things in the past, and some things I have to admit I have just plain thought was ridiculous with no commonsense reason behind it--and refused to do it. Sometimes I have wondered, was much of it necessary?
Interesting question--is standards necessary? There is some of them that may not be necessary to salvation contrary to what a lot of my holiness brothers and sisters think, but maybe they are important in another way. My mom used to say, "Some things we do just because we want to show God we are willing to do extra for Him, just to be sure we are doing what He wants, and to let Him know we love Him." It is a comment that bears exploiting in each of our lives. Those "things" may be different in all of our lives--the things that God either tells us to do, or what we feel we should do extra for Him. Are we willing to do extra for Him? That is what the important question is.
Well this brings me to the next part of my thoughts--our church split. Our church voted out the pastor that had been there the past 4 years. He was a good man with a lovely family. He was very talented in speaking and singing along with his wife. However, he had many different ideas and standards that don’t fit with the holiness crowd. Many of the holiness standards had gone by the wayside in his own family. Were they things against the Bible? No. I have to admit though, I do think that maybe the pastor's family should hold a higher standard than the people as they are an example. The people will always take what they do and go further. Well in the matter of standards in our church, I think that was true. We had no holiness standards for the platform of our church, or people holding offices, even though the holiness-dress guidelines should have been kept as they were in the manual. Although this was definitely a problem, it was by no means the only problem; however, that is all I am going to mention in this post as I am talking about standards. Those who voted him out were the conservative ones that held old-fashioned standards. Even some of those who voted for him to stay were conservative holiness, but some of them just hated to vote against the pastor, but were unhappy with the way the church was going. Well to make a long story short, the ones that tended toward liberalism left, the conservative folk stayed. This brings me to the crux of my thoughts.
I seen a distinct difference in the two groups—the ones that stayed and those that left. Some of those that left appeared to show markedly bad attitudes, and spread all over their version of what happened—even over the internet where unsaved folks could see. They went around and talked to our Sunday school kids whose parents don’t come—even to at least 2 parents of those children. They were definitely trying to hinder and backstab those that stayed. There was horrible stuff said about the conservative crowd who still sit in the pews of that church. However, in the lives of those folk that were so hurt, I seen none of this. They did not defend themselves on the internet, they didn’t go around spreading gossip about those that left, and I seen several of them weep for the pastor that they couldn’t agree with, and for those that left. I seen a marked difference in behavior, and I came to conclusion that maybe the standards some holiness people hold are more important for one reason more than any reason that I have ever heard preached or taught. Maybe with some of them it is a sign that that person is willing to go the extra mile for God. Could it be the sign of a truly submissive heart? And could it be with some, that that one is truly in love with Jesus?
Now don’t get me wrong—I have also seen some folk with standards to the T, and yet they are as hypocritical as they come. Your spiritual relationship with God does not come with your standards, but I think mayhap sometimes your standards come from that spiritual relationship, and out of a heartfelt, deep desire to do wholly and fully as He wants, even to the extent of doing more than He wants just to be sure He is happy with you.
I also am not saying that you have to hold all our standards to be a Christian—just do what He tells you to do, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to do something more….! And if you feel comfortable being more liberal than the holiness crowd, just don't criticize--maybe some just have a pure and holy desire to please God.
Are you willing to do extra for God?