(an excerpt from Matthew Kelly’s book “Rediscover Jesus”)
There are so many lies in circulation about Christians and Christianity. Most are the result of ignorance. Some are the result of intentional misinformation. A handful are a malicious personal attack upon Jesus in an attempt to discredit the Christian faith. Some of these lies are aimed at our theology and beliefs and others are aimed at the Christian way of life.
But one lie is having a diabolical impact on the lives of modern Christians. It is the biggest lie in the history of Christianity. It is worth noting that this lie is not one that non-Christians tell. It is a lie we tell ourselves as Christians.
This is the lie: Holiness is not possible.
The great majority of modern Christians don’t actually believe that holiness is possible. Sure, we believe it is possible for our grandmothers or some medieval saint—just not for us. We don’t actually believe that holiness is possible for us.
Search your heart. Do you believe holiness is possible for you?
I am not sure when or where this belief began its stranglehold on the spiritual life of Christians and the Church. No doubt there is a complex series of psychological reasons and excuses that cause us to accept and believe this lie. It is diabolical in its subtlety, evil genius in its simplicity.
It is astounding that just one lie can neutralize the majority of Christians. That’s right, neutralize. This lie takes us out of the game and turns us into mere spectators in the epic story of Christianity. It may be the devil’s biggest triumph in modern history. It is the holocaust of Christian spirituality.
In a thousand ways every day we tell ourselves and each other: Holiness is not possible. But it is a lie. And we cannot experience the complete joy that God wants for us and that we want for ourselves until we get beyond it.
“Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God Who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love. Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clock-time—our brief chronological existence—but by the One Who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.” -Henri J. M. Nouwen, “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World”
“In Him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One Who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His Will, so that we might exist for the praise of His glory, we who first hoped in Christ. In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-14)