J.I. Packer continues to be a hero of mine. I only met him once. I had 40 minutes alone with him one year when he came and spoke at my seminary. He needed a ride to the airport after chapel and I don’t think I ever raised my hand faster to volunteer for something. I became a “fan-boy” about four years before that incident when I read his book KNOWING GOD in 1976. Few books were more formative for me in my early thinking as a young Christian. (Thank you, Milly Soto for the gift.)
Today, in my devotions, I ran across the quote below from another landmark book of Packer’s, Keep in Step with the Spirit. In it, he cries out for the body of Christ to give higher priority to personal holiness if we truly want to have the most impact on our culture. A rise in personal holiness will be one of the accompanying signs of revival. “Make it so Lord.”
The World’s Greatest Need
is the Personal Holiness of Christian People.
“Christians are called to oppose the world. But how, in this case, can that be done? Credibile opposition to secular idealogies can be shown by speaking and writing, but credible opposition to unholiness can only be shown by holy living (see Ephesians 5:3-14). Ecumenical goals for the church are defined nowadays in terms of the quest for social, racial, and economic justice, but it would be far healthier if our first aim was agreed to be personal and relational holiness in every believer’s life. Much as the modern West needs the impact of Chrisitian truth, it needs the impact of Christian holiness even more, both to demonstrate that godliness is the true humanness and to keep community life from rotting to destruction. The pursuit of holiness is thus no mere private hobby, nor merely a path for a select few, but a vital element in Christian mission strategy today. The world’s greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people.”
Keep In Step With The Spirit (1984)
I thought this was a timely thing for Christians to remember in a day when we are all rightly angry, depressed, and anxious for change in our nation as we think about the tragic killing of George Floyd, our brother in Christ, in the city of Minneapolis. Work for justice AND be holy.