Most of the church communities to which I have belonged have had a strong grounding in the holiness movement. Essentially, it's a focus on "right living," sometimes interpreted as avoiding sin. This movement definitely plays a powerful role in my life still, but I've struggled with it and how people approach holiness.
There is this nebulous disagreement I have with some approaches to holiness that have been difficult for me to really define because theologically, I can't fully disagree. Yet something feels off. It was this same sense of some sort of difference from some Christians that Richard Foster's Stream of Living Water helped define. In this book, Foster describes six streams, or traditions of Christian living and belief. They're not opposed to one another, and in fact, all are important and should co-exist. Yet most of us emphasize one over the others, causing theologically subtle, yet practically significant differences.
What I recently realized (this Sunday to be specific) is that it seems like some of the differences occur with how some of us perceive and relate to God, thus affecting how we approach holiness. John Eldredge discusses the varying and ascending metaphors to describe our relationship with God. He argues (well and biblically, in my opinion) that the ultimate relationship God desires is that of lovers. Close intimacy. Even before that, we are friends and children.
Yet what often happens is many times we view God as judge. Is God a judge? Yes. But I don't think that's his primary role. Just as lovers hold one another accountable, God holds us accountable, but that feeling of accountability is different than that of a distant judge.
When we view God as judge, I believe we approach holiness as a way to avoid judgment. As I heard someone say this weekend with reference to the sexual immorality of the US,