I had not realised it, but one of my previously favourite authors had released a new book in January of this year. The author is John Eldredge and the book is entitled The Utter Relief of Holiness: How God’s Goodness Frees Us from Everything that Hinders Us.
I’ve read each book published by John Eldredge, except for Beautiful Outlaw. I remember when I came into contact with his first book, The Sacred Romance (at that time co-authored by Brent Curtis, close friend and ministry partner of Eldredge, who was killed in a climbing accident not too long after the book’s release). It was a breath of fresh air in comparison with many other Christian devotional/spirituality books of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
So, I’ve always appreciated Eldredge’s works. But some of his later books began to repeat a bit too much of what he had previously written and taught, at least from my perspective. So this is why I didn’t purchase his previous release, Beautiful Outlaw.
Still, this week I stopped by the ministry website of Eldredge – Ransomed Heart Ministries. And this is where I saw the advert for his newly published book.
I’ve only read ch.1 as of now, but I really appreciated his thoughts on holiness. Typically when we hear the word holiness, it probably leaves a religiously strict residue in our minds, mainly because of some idea around holiness being connected to behaviour management. We think of obeying certain rules that consist of ‘Do this and don’t do this.’ And, of course, the work of the Spirit of God does bring about change in behaviour.
But this is only seen from the surface.
There is something deeper.
And so Eldredge begins to lay out the premise that holiness and wholeness are connected. To become holy is to become whole, as God intended and created us to be. And to be made whole comes through healing, healing deep within.
Think of physical healing. When one is healed of a sickness or disease, a broken or disfigured limb, what is taking place is our restoration to wholeness. The same is true within, in the heart, in the soul. Sin, theologians tell us, consists of ‘missing the mark’. And, so, to be made whole allows us to not miss that mark, or more importantly, to live as God intended humans to live.
I think this is a helpful approach to understanding holiness. Yes, we are broken and sinful. Yes, we need healing into wholeness that we might be holy. And as this deeper work takes place, the surface behaviour will also be transformed.
As Eldredge ends out ch.1 exclaiming:
Take the things you struggle with and ask yourself, “What would life be like if I never struggled with this again?”
It would be an utter relief. An absolute, utter relief.
Exactly. Now, in order to get there, you need both wholeness and holiness.
The utter relief of holiness. Let’s be made whole so that we can walk as holy, as God intended.