Karla and I recently saw the movie Tarzan. I’m not a movie critic or the son of a movie critic but that Tarzan was no Johnny Weissmuller (anyone younger than 50 will not have a clue of Johnny Weissmuller. Too bad or as the “real” Tarzan would say, “Oon-Gowa.”). Karla liked the love story between Tarzan and Jane, but I’ve always been partial to Cheeta and alas there was no Cheeta.
Here’s why I’m telling you about our recent trip to the movies: when we went to the theatre, I paid for the tickets with a credit card. As the young clerk was handing me the tickets and my credit card, I realized that I used the church credit card instead of my personal credit card. Both credit cards are blue. They look similar. I’ve made the mistake before in reverse and used my personal card to pay for church items. But this time I used it at a movie theatre! Thirty years ago, a Nazarene preacher going to a movie theatre would have been reason for real troubles with the church big wigs.
Old time Nazarenes remember the days when good Nazarenes didn’t frequent such establishments. My first movie was as a junior in high school when I snuck out of the house to see Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. The whole time I was in the theatre filled with second graders watching the cartoon, I was praying that Jesus would not return and catch me in that evil place! When I was in the 5th grade, my mom gave a note to the gym teacher stating that square dancing was “against our religion” and I could not participate in the activity. Had I offered a church membership class, every boy in the 5th grade at Marquette Elementary School would have joined the Church of the Nazarene on the spot. To many folks, face cards were a no no too, but Rook cards and Uno cards were OK. All of this seems silly now.
Back then too often holiness was defined by what we didn’t do and where we didn’t go. Holiness seemed to be more about outward appearances than an inward transformation. At times, holiness morphed into a “holier-than-thou” type of legalism rather than an honest pursuit of a Christ-likeness.
This is not to say that holiness in unnecessary. Quite to the contrary, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) is still in the Bible and is pretty straight forward. God’s plan has always been for His people to live a holy life, and God’s power enables us to do it. Holiness is not a call to legalism nor is it the impossible dream, holiness is becoming more and more like Jesus. Plain and simple. Now more than ever our world needs people that think and act like Jesus. Now more than ever, we need holiness!