There’s a song that begins, “Lord make me a servant, Lord make me like you…” Christ was the greatest servant of all. I cannot help but wonder what kind of open heart he must have nurtured to provide a place for the Spirit to work. Along those lines, I came across these thoughts recently about the actions of the Christian.
The following is a bit of text from pp. 126-127 of Chuck Colson’s Loving God.
A few years ago a brother in the order came to her complaining about a superior whose rules, he felt, were interfering with his ministry. “My vocation is to work for lepers,” he told Mother Teresa. “I want to spend myself for the lepers.”
She stared at him a moment, then smiled. “Brother,” she said gently, “your vocation is not to work for lepers, your vocation is to belong to Jesus.”
Mother Teresa is not in love with a cause, noble as her cause is. Rather, she loves God and is dedicated to living His life, not her own, This is holiness. It is the complete surrender of self in obedience to the will and service of God. Or as Mother Teresa sums it up, complete “acceptance of the will of God.”
Mother Teresa’s definition may sound rather nebulous to many Christians who have from childhood associated holiness with a long string of dos and don’ts. But seeing holiness only as a rule-keeping breeds serious problems: first, it limits the scope of true biblical holiness, which must affect every aspect of our lives. Second, even though the rules may be biblically based, we often end up obeying the rules rather than obeying God; concern with the letter of the law can cause us to lose its spirit. Third, emphasis on rule-keeping deludes us into thinking we can be holy through our efforts. But there can be no holiness apart from the work of the Holy Spirit – in quickening us through the conviction of sin and bringing us by grace to Christ, and sanctifying us – for it is grace that causes us to even want to be holy. And finally, our pious efforts can become ego-gratifying, as if holy living were some kind of spiritual beauty contest. Such self-centered spirituality in turn leads to self-righteousness – the very opposite of the selflessness of true holiness. – Charles Colson.
I don’t know much about Mother Teresa, seeing as my background is from the Restoration Movement heritage of the 19th-20th centuries. But I love what I read of her life and spirit of holiness. Also, I love Colson’s statement, “…there can be no holiness apart from the work of the Holy Spirit…” It behooves believers in Christ to continue reading and studying the word of God, so we provide an adequate vessel for the Spirit of God to work in this world. God knows, He needs ambassadors; the cool thing is that He doesn’t expect perfect people to be those ambassadors! “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20-21