The sweet and brittle sides of holiness

Uncle Bud Robinson was, in his day, probably the best known Church of the Nazarene minister in the world. He was, without doubt, a one of a kind individual who was used of God in amazing ways.

He was especially known for his constant good humor and the ability to turn a phrase. In fact, his unique statements were repeated by pastors everywhere and when Uncle Buddy came to town, everyone looked forward to hearing him say some things that were already quite familiar to them.

One of his famous prayers was: “My prayer is now that the Lord will turn a hogshead of honey over in your soul and just let it ooze out between your ribs until you will be so sweet that every bumblebee and honeybee in the settlement will be abuzzing around your doorstep.”

Bud Robinson, himself, was especially known for his sweetness. To him, every biscuit he ate was the finest he’d ever tasted; every singer sang like an angel; every revival was the finest he’d ever experienced.

Uncle Buddy was before my time, so I have no first hand knowledge of him. However, when I read about him, certain people come to mind. These are folks I’ve known through the years who were “so sweet that every bumblebee and honeybee” buzzed around them.

Of course, I’ve seen the other side too. I’ve been around folks who were so brittle and sour that it was painful to be their friend and I sure didn’t want to be their enemy.

It seems to me that there’s a tipping point, even over here in the “holiness movement.” I think that everyone, sooner or later, realizes that not everything is going their way. In the church world, for instance, the new generation comes along and “they” don’t preach or sing like we used to. The times change but we don’t. Things aren’t done the way we know they should be done and we feel diminished and pushed out.

It’s at that point that we come to a fork in the road. Down one road is a sense of self-righteousness, judgment, and disappointment. It would be so easy to follow that path. After all, we’ve been on the road to Glory longer than they have. We’ve seen some things and learned some lessons that they ought to hear. When we feel ignored we’re tempted to feel hurt and angry. That’s the brittle side of holiness.

I’ve known some, though, who chose the “honey route.” It’s not that they tossed aside their values and convictions about things, because they haven’t. However, they’ve chosen to trust God with these disappointments.  They’ve decided to keep their eyes on Jesus and they’ve begun looking forward to heaven a bit more than they did before.  They’ve chosen to intentionally love people even when they don’t always agree with them.

The Heavenly Father looks at them and sees something of his beloved Son, Jesus in their spirit. Because they remain open hearted the Lord pours his love into them and, to borrow from Uncle Buddy, the honey fills them, oozes between their ribs and pours out over all who are around them.

In this changing world, we’re bound to sometimes be disappointed when things don’t go our way. Life has both good days and bad and can be both satisfying and disappointing. In all that, we holiness folk need to stand guard over our souls. Every time we’re pressured we must chose the “sweet route.”

When all the theology is set aside, the greatest witness for Jesus and heart holiness is an individual who has had, and maintains that “hogshead of honey” experience.