Website of Jeffrey Grupp

Holiness is Always About the Other: Christ’s Divinity Lived Via Holy Weakness

Power is only of God. We are broken vessels—power in weakness. The world teaches us to be strong, individualistic, not co-dependent, weekend warriors, trusting in the (error-prone) senses. This is ingrained in us all, including the most devoted of Christians, and thus it typically takes a lifetime of personal Christlikeness “training,” so to speak, to undo the ingrained idea of being strong in order to be strong (the world), rather than being weak in order to be strong (via a Higher Power, which is not the world’s way but is God’s way). I view this latter concept (God’s way) often in the context of Galatians 2:20, which teaches us that there are two selves: (1) the prideful fracture/false self, which is always broken and prone to sin and darkness, and (2) the crucified self, which is “Christ in me,” which is not broken, and which can (and must) replace and eclipse the first self (self-(1)), wherein we are NEW, rather than merely adjusted: the self is replaced, we are a new creation (not a modified creation) (2 Cor. 5.17), with a new heart.

So we are all broken and not broken at the same time: the fallen self is broken, and the crucified self has power within that comes from Above to generate and sustain the new creation. I find this a most beautiful, soothing, peaceful and exhilarating theological truth: when we are nothing, like He was nothing, we have everything. Like the song’s lyrics: “If I have you and nothing else then I have everything” (From the song, IF I HAVE YOU, by the Vertical Church Band). This theological truth means we are instructed that we never have to be the hero, be the superstar, be the top-dog, the leader, the conquer, the this or the that. Rather, all we have to be, is at rest, surrendered, still (Ps. 46.10), a receptacle of Christ’s/Trinity’s joy, and broken to pieces with Christ at home deep inside of us. We are to be sub contrario, which means, in this context, to be the opposite of what self-(1) is striving to be (a prideful sinner). Instead, we are to be an anti-hero, not a star, the last/lost lamb rather than top dog, the conquered, the surrendered, the broken, the defeated, the nothing. This is the answer, to everything in our lives. Leclerc clarifies much of this nicely in Chapter 10 of Leclerc 2010:

In the kingdom of God, the last will be first; the poor, the mournful, the meek, and the hungry will be blessed and filed. The powerful in the world will be least in the kingdom of God. Indeed, the kingdom of God turns everything upside down. Authority is redefined. Mastery minimized. Power is seen in paradox… [I]t is the cross that is the greatest expression of God’s self-giving, self-sacrificing, indeed self-emptying love. It is this self-emptying that is to define both our personhood and our self-denial. Holiness thus demands from us a self-emptying love that is, like Christ himself, constantly replenished by god’s love for us… We are empowered to be holy, but not for the sake of our own holiness. Holiness most vividly expressed as kenotic love, is always costly and always for the other.  (Leclerc 2010, 244).

The holiness that Jesus implants into us by our relationship with Him makes us abandon self and flood with love for others, especially for our enemies. This is difficult to fathom for the pre-surrendered unsaved person, who is of the world’s ways, who believes that only the world’s ways are reality, and who is unaware of the higher Supernatural Mind that is actually behind all things. This all-consuming love for others is a product of Christ’s atonement, is lived through when we live our lives deep inside the presence of Christ, which is an atoning existence, of fullness of joy.

The world teaches us to have self-esteem and self-empowerment, but God teaches us to crucify the self! This is a life of full, unrelenting, blind trust in God, letting Him control our limbs and breath (Rom. 6.13), and letting go of everything but our one desire: Jesus. If we are a beggar or a thief, a criminal or a prostitute, the suicidal or the murderer, a billionaire or a complete loser, we find complete escape in Him (and we are all of these! because we are one in Him [Phil 2:2, Col. 3:11], sin is corporate, as is worship). All these sinners are so cherished and loved by God, and can find refuge in Him, a hiding place. I just want that hiding place to be my life. There’s just not really anything for us to do—rather, we have to undo, let go, release, and receive Him.

-Pastor Jeffrey Grupp, Church of the Nazarene, Aug 3, 2017

Work Cited:

Leclerc, Diane, 2010, Discovering Christian Holiness: The Heart of Wesleyan-Holiness Theology, Kansas City: Beacon Hill.