Holiness

 

Take My Life (Holiness) Uplifting Version by Passionate Praise

 

Holiness was the name of a study by Jerry Bridges, published by NavPress, that was at the beginning of my life growing deeper as a follower of Christ.

There are two things to realise – there is the fight against sin and lack of success. They might look like they are contradictory but I think we might be thinking of failing and becoming a failure, which are in fact just that. I know I am going to fail.

“The righteous man always resembles more a loser than a victor, for the Lord lets him be tested and assailed to his utmost limits as gold is tested in a furnace.”  – Martin Luther

This is an important part of discipleship, especially in my eyes as I am in my mid 50’s and still learning to persevere through my failures. Failure does not make me quit, it makes me repent more diligently and press on, not in my strength, but in the Spirit’s.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1  ESV

Here is Paul’s strong message to the Corinthian church for holiness. The very next verse he gives a secret to how that journey begins.

Make room in your hearts[b] for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. – 2 Corinthians 7:2  ESV

If you can carry unholiness in your heart, there must be room there for you to carry holiness too.

This verse is definitely dealing with impurity of some kind and there seems to be a darker element here than in any of his previous writings to the church. Money usually plays a part in some of the misunderstanding between Paul and the church and that is why he never asks this church for support. I believe this church found themselves partying just as hard as their secular neighbours and if not, they tolerated it for sure and they were part of their friendship circles.

No wonder there were rumours that the Agape or the Feasts of Love, were scenes of complete senselessness.

In case you were looking for good news – the Corinth church did in fact repent and beautifully responded to Titis’ visit.  Good news indeed.

 

 

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The Lord reigns

 

Gateway Worship – The Lord Reigns

 

I loved the opportunity this morning to engage in the second journey of the ark to Jerusalem. What a celebration! I cannot imagine the decibel levels that might have been reached. It is a picture for me of what my celebration will be like when I see Jesus. So with the time I have to practice, I might as well dance with all my might and plunge myself in the bottomless sea of ineffable bliss.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”                 1 Chronicles 16:31  ESV

Okay, both feet are back on the ground again, reality hits home when I engage with the Corinthian church. They were so bad at so many levels even though I know they enjoyed some wild moments in their relationship with God. They were so bad that even Paul had to tell them to be good to Timothy who he was sending to them. I am reminded again to make sure that my heavenly expressions matter and change me in my earthly ministry.

When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am.                 1 Corinthians 16:10  ESV

I cannot be taking my cues from the secular society around me. I cannot be pitting one Christian against another. Apollos did not want to come to Corinth. That is pretty bad.

So tough talk is just as important as being in worship and celebration.

If I am going to be a follower of Jesus, and I do, I need to be watching, to stand firm in my faith, to be courageous and to be strong. But mostly, and above all else, I need to love. The bottom line is love – not wealth, sophistication, competing ideas.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14  ESV

I found Paul Tillich’s concept of faith being our ultimate concern fascinating. It speaks into this idea a bit. Here is snippet of a summary I found.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Tillich believes the essence of religious attitudes is what he calls “ultimate concern”. Separate from all profane and ordinary realities, the object of the concern is understood as sacred, numinous or holy. The perception of its reality is felt as so overwhelming and valuable that all else seems insignificant, and for this reason requires total surrender.[38] In 1957, Tillich defined his conception of faith more explicitly in his work, Dynamics of Faith.

Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence … If [a situation or concern] claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim … it demands that all other concerns … be sacrificed.[39]

Tillich further refined his conception of faith by stating that, “Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It is the most centered act of the human mind … it participates in the dynamics of personal life.”[40]

An arguably central component of Tillich’s concept of faith is his notion that faith is “ecstatic”. That is to say:

It transcends both the drives of the nonrational unconsciousness and the structures of the rational conscious … the ecstatic character of faith does not exclude its rational character although it is not identical with it, and it includes nonrational strivings without being identical with them. ‘Ecstasy’ means ‘standing outside of oneself’ – without ceasing to be oneself – with all the elements which are united in the personal center.[41]

In short, for Tillich, faith does not stand opposed to rational or nonrational elements (reason and emotion respectively), as some philosophers would maintain. Rather, it transcends them in an ecstatic passion for the ultimate.[42]

It should also be noted that Tillich does not exclude atheists in his exposition of faith. Everyone has an ultimate concern, and this concern can be in an act of faith, “even if the act of faith includes the denial of God. Where there is ultimate concern, God can be denied only in the name of God”[43]

What is my bottom line, what is my highest value? I know this, as much as I enjoy singing, it will only be genuine and celebratory if I act in courage to be a disciple of Jesus and align all that I am and have with the ministry of love. It does take courage to make my love of God, my neighbour and my enemy my bottom line.

 

 

 

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