Making Holiness Attractive

Making Holiness Attractive

Making Holiness Attractive.

“And the people were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘Everything He does is beautiful!” (Mark 7:37).

BEAUTIFUL: Greek word for beauty is “kalos,” used in Mark 7:37 above. The word means beautiful, handsome, perfect, excellent, admirable, wonderful. According to the people surrounding Him, everything Jesus did was beautiful. According to the messianic passage in Isaiah 53, Jesus had no outward beauty that would attract people to Him. But Jesus had a different kind of beauty. He had the beauty of holiness.

“O God of beauty, oft revealed in dreams of human art, in speech that flows to melody, in holiness of heart;

Teach us to ban all ugliness that blinds our eyes to thee, till all shall know the loveliness of lives made fair and free.”  (Henry Tweedy, 1929).

There is no doubt that Jesus displayed the beauty of holiness in His life and ministry. He was a living magnet, attracting people to His holiness. He led a beautiful life. It’s a wonder why there aren’t more people now attracted to His beauty. Certainly we can overcome the stiff competition from the world. His holiness was attractive when He was on earth. Why is holiness any less desirable now? Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus can be worthy competition to the spirit of the age once again. It is still true that everything he does is beautiful. His holiness is still attractive. “In that day, the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious.” (Isaiah 4:2). Perhaps the following aspects of holiness will be attractive once again.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Elizabeth Poston, sung by Ensemble Altera – YouTube

The Beauty of Wisdom. People find themselves naturally attracted to people who make sense, who have discernment and irrefutable logic. People are drawn to those who have a knack for living skillfully, creatively, truthfully. Most people find it admirable when someone takes pleasure in thinking thoughts that fit the occasion. True wisdom has a humility to it that attracts people… A wise person doesn’t necessarily have to have the highest natural intelligence. Wisdom is available to the common person. It is present in a person who is able to develop a deep understanding, not an impressive resume or a high test score. People are drawn to how wisdom is accessible to average people. Wisdom doesn’t shame people into feeling dumb or inferior. Simple wisdom lifts people up because it honors a person’s dignity and worth. Wise ideas tend to make sense, and people desperately want to make sense of the world and their existence. People want ideas to hold together, to have integrity, to stand up well against the trendy thoughts of the day. Wise logic tends to have the ring of truth, unlike the false tones of much of what is considered to be logical in contemporary life. So wisdom can be attractive to those who realize they are caught up in superficial thinking, skim reading their way through a life that doesn’t make sense. Wisdom is attractive in a foolish age, one in which one idea after another doesn’t seem to hold water. In His wisdom, Jesus was also very clever, and people love that. At every turn, He outthought the opposition. He had clever rejoinders, clever stories, clever word-play. People find that attractive. He wasn’t afraid to mix it up with opponents, to cleverly outthink the power brokers, the elite, the arrogant and self-assured. Jesus was wise as an owl, and clever as a snake. Believers have an important task here. Communicate in an appetizing way that gives people a taste of true wisdom. Live in a way that winsomely introduces wisdom to the culture and its people. Make wisdom attractive. People will soon latch onto wisdom like bees to pollen. Jesus incarnated wisdom. In Jesus was hidden all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). In fact, Jesus was made wisdom for us (1 Corinthians 1:30). And the beauty of His holy wisdom will attract people’s attention.

The Beauty of Goodness. People are naturally attracted to those who make the world a better place. People are intrigued by those who simply want to treat others well and help others flourish. People admire those who can be trusted to do the right thing, who are consistently kind and just. A person filled with love is the strongest magnet to attract others. Compassion naturally draws others into its influence. When people are not receiving mercy in life, they seek out a merciful person. When people suspect they are living a tainted life, in their hearts they seek out someone who is leading more of a pure life, a holy life, for some moral direction. Genuine purity tends to get people’s attention, depending on how it’s displayed. Goodness is a secret goal in most people’s lives. We may not know it, but we all have a secret yearning for true goodness. Most of us want to be known as a good person. We all have the breath of God in us, and we have inhaled the fresh aroma of goodness, and we want more. We are drawn to those who have authentic goodness, who are not hypocritical, who do not compromise. We look up to those who have a healthy moral authority. Jesus had an attractive goodness, and it was communicated loud and clear in the way He lived His life. His goodness was obvious and couldn’t be argued in an honest conversation. The beauty of His holiness revealed a goodness that pulled others toward Him. Here is a man, they thought, who is living the way we were all meant to live, the way I want to live. He didn’t obey the pull of power and applause. And look how He fleshed out His goodness… through the fruit of the Spirit with such qualities as love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5). As Christians we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in a way that makes goodness attractive. Our robe of pure righteousness must be seen somehow as a necessary part of everyone’s wardrobe.

The Beauty of Victory. Everybody loves a winner. What bigger victory can be achieved than conquering death? Resurrection is the ultimate victory, and Jesus achieved the biggest win of all time. Is there anything more beautiful and glorious and perfect than rising from the dead? When people consider Jesus, they might say that, yes, He was unusually wise. But many people fit that category. They might say that He was an extraordinarily good man. But there have been other good people too. People might say that Jesus was indeed a great man, but what can they say about the resurrection? They would have to think about that long and hard. They can’t just shrug that off without at least a serious glance. Even with hundreds of eye witnesses, many might try to ignore this aspect of Jesus’ life. But people can’t simply ignore the empty tomb. Many would have to admit that the resurrection changes everything. If that’s true, He wasn’t just a great man. One could easily excuse other aspects of Jesus’ life, but not this. And one would need to consider all the life-giving actions of Jesus that serve as appetizers to the resurrection… healing lepers and cripples and the deaf and the blind; making demonic spirits powerless in His presence; offering hope to the overwhelmed and overpowered; raising people from the dead. This was all a prelude, hints of a major life-giving event to come. Somehow His suffering and death didn’t end there, but became a life-giving event. The resurrection is attractive to those who have a deep heart’s desire for life to conquer death. We believers need to offer a life-giving life, revealing the beauty and truth of the resurrection. The victory of Christ could be the ultimate attraction to others. May we open the empty tomb for all to see.

Wanted: A Magnet. Are we looking for a way to give holiness some pulling power? Are we trying to make holiness attractive to the crowd as well as the church? Look no further than Jesus. He led a beautiful, holy life.

  1. His holy wisdom helps make sense of the world. His wisdom is a vast improvement over the world’s glaring foolishness. True to His Word, He is truth-in-action.
  2. His holy goodness makes the world a better place. The obvious beauty of His goodness is a decided advantage over the banal ugliness of sin. He is love-in-action.
  3. His final victory provides the ultimate attraction. His holy life couldn’t be defeated by death. He was victorious in something that defeated everyone else. His resurrection was power-in-action.

So how can we make holiness compelling? For one thing, maybe the main thing, is to keep pointing people to the Gospels. Talk about His character and personality, His life and  ministry. It’s hard to argue with any of that. As the Holy Spirit guides the process, people will question Him, then admire Him, then investigate Him, then follow Him. It is a divine duty of all believers to live in such a way as to make Jesus an attractive option, the only option. Christians need to grow in winsomely fleshing out the beauty of His holiness through demonstrating His wisdom, His goodness, and His ultimate victory. While we do that, keep praying that God would give us “a crown of beauty” to replace our ashes of defeat. (Isaiah 61:3).

Living A Beautiful Life. Several times in the Hebrew Bible we were instructed to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (1 Chron. 16:29; 2 Chron. 20:21; Ps. 29:2; Ps. 96:9; Ps. 110:3). God is beautiful, and He is so because of His holiness. And because He is holy, we are to be holy, and thus beautiful. What does that act of worship look like now? How can we adore Him in the beauty that God deserves? St Paul seems to address this in Romans 12:1-2; “Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.” (The Passion Translation).