I have fond memories of the church in Mozambique and the ways it shaped my life. The Church of the Nazarene in Mozambique invests a lot of time in teaching and preaching on holiness. A week or weeks of holiness revival were normal and intended to rekindle interest in, passion for, and practice of biblical holiness of both heart and life. Such revivals focused on three areas: prevenient grace, saving grace, and sanctifying grace.
Over the years, I witnessed several of these revivals in Mozambique, but one gathering has stayed with me. In that gathering, I witnessed the transformation of a man whose family and community did not think there was hope for change in his life. This man’s story included substance abuse, domestic violence, witchcraft and worship of idols (ancestral worship), and much more. His wife and children had started to come to church, and one of his children prayed earnestly for the salvation of his dad. One evening during the revival week, he walked into the church — not because he had planned to join us for worship but because he was upset with his family, and he was going to deal with and embarrass them right there. He was drunk and did not have the nicest things to say.
The preacher deviated from his script and calmly engaged in a conversation with him. It was entertaining to many of us; but at the end of their exchange, the man sat down. He suddenly became quiet and more attentive to the Word. As the message ended, he joined those who were at the altar. He cried out to the Lord for His salvation. Finally, he had a huge smile on his face and said, “It is over. Today I choose a new life. I will pursue this new life as long as I live.”
My dad, Rev. Manuel Chambo (Tshambe) was the preacher. As he was getting ready to close the service he said, “It is beautiful to witness the transformation in people’s lives as they respond to God’s grace to forgive their sins.” Then he added, “But there is more that God wants to do in our lives. The message for us and for our world is that God invites us into a holy relationship with Him. We are to be the holy people of God. This is made possible through the forgiveness of our sins and the work of God in our lives to give us victory over sin.” Of course, he was doing a little promo to ensure that we would all be back the following nights.
My dad understood a holy relationship with God as living in exclusive relationship with God—a relationship that does not open itself to association with things that are contrary to God’s holy nature and character.
God invites all people into a holy relationship with Him. Only God can make us holy, for He is holy.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1, Paul writes to the Church to say, now that you are in Christ, your lives must be compatible and in harmony with your identity in Christ. Live a holy life. Be loyal to God. Love God with all that is within you. Do not worship or give devotion to other gods and forces. Paul is simply saying, as followers of Christ, we cannot continue to live the same way we did when we were in darkness.
It is reasonable to think that Paul was concerned about the followers of Christ who continued to be attracted to pagan practices. Hence, Paul wanted them to know that the lifestyle of holiness people was incompatible with that of the pagans. Holiness people are called to cease living as idolaters and immoral persons.
The good news is that it is possible to live in this world and have the power to overcome the temptation to participate in sin. Holy living is possible for all those who are in Christ because God Himself makes it possible when we yield our lives to Him. God has given us this beautiful gift, and He enables us to live as a holy people.
Well, the man that I mentioned at the beginning of this article — over the years, I watched his life change. I watched him grow in his walk with the Lord, and I witnessed his family get to know a new person and enjoy a season of peace. This man had become a new creation. His sins were forgiven. He had come to know and experience God’s sanctifying grace. The trajectory of his family changed because he received the gift of the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the dominion of sin.
This biblical truth of full salvation is what our world needs. We should offer nothing less than that.
Fili Chambo is a general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2021