The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness is the first book by Kevin DeYoung I’ve read, and I’ll be checking out some others. He is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.
First, I appreciated his sense of humor sprinkled throughout in a book that should have been difficult to make “fun.” Second, his writing style seemed to always lead me to read “one more page” which would actually result in another chapter being read.
He opens with an illustration that I really connected with, mainly because I’m not a huge fan of camping either. He likens prep for camping to “packing up the van like Noah’s ark and driving to a mosquito infested campground where you reconstitute an inconvenient version of your kitchen and your bedroom” and notes that it “just doesn’t make sense.”
As far as camping near a beach, I can totally identify with this line of thought:
“…there must be a cleaner, less humid way to export the children for a week… even if the kids have a great time, the weather holds up, no one needs stitches, and the seventeenth hot dog tastes as good as the first, it will still be difficult to get all the sand out of my books.”
“Is it possible you look at personal holiness like I look at camping?”
His point? The idea of holiness in the western church today is largely looked at as fine for some people (like camping). The unholy implication is that it’s not to be expected of every Christian.
DeYoung then gently unpacks the teaching of scripture about holiness. I never felt like I was being “yelled at” or preached to throughout the book. Rather, it was like a warm conversation with a friend who really cares about me. Sure, it was intensely uncomfortable at times, but that was only because the truths he points out expose my own levels of spiritual compromise.
There are a few comments in the book that aren’t consistently true. Such as:
Holiness is written on everything in heaven.. You would not be happy there if you are not holy here.
The first part of that is obviously true. However, the second part is most definitely not. There will be no unhappiness in heaven, no regret. All will pale in the light of the reckless, abundant love and holiness of Christ Himself. I understand what he’s saying though. Why would Christians today not consistently want to seek Christ in our lives here when we’ll be enjoying Him throughout eternity?
However, the great weight of the book is a very readable foundation for every believer to understand the call to holiness – which actually is just a call to enjoying one’s relationship with God. It’s very difficult to enjoy a love relationship with a self-described holy God without cherishing holiness yourself.
The may not be the toolbox for holiness (“do these things”), although DeYoung does offer four simple spiritual disciplines that will place you on a pathway of communion with God: prayer, scripture, fellowship with other Christians and the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Even so, the book is an important one to read and grasp if you desire a daily pursuit of walking more intimately with Jesus.