Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Hope-full Purification

Trying to be holy without standing on a base of hope is like….well, it’s like running through a dark wilderness with a broken compass, wearing worn-out moccasins while carrying an angry and sharp-beaked octopus on your back. During an ice storm.

OK, the analogy is imperfect, but you get the point. If you seek holiness without a firm anchor in hope, you simply become a guilt-ridden Pharisee.

Trust me – I know from experience.

We see the God-honoring way of becoming holy in I John 3:1-3:

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appearswe shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

First, we embrace God in a love relationship. We become, and then ARE, His children (a fact, a fixed identity. Done deal.)

Then, we embrace the fact that our ultimate destiny – our future identity, secured by an all-powerful God – is total conformity to Christ. We WILL be holy. A done deal that is getting done now.

Finally, we then are able to take on whatever efforts to actively purify ourselves. Practical holiness becomes practical only when we embrace our identity, our beloved-ness, our destiny.

Holiness is hope-fueled. Guilt, fear, and moral pride only lead to an external straitjacket of attempted behavior-modification. Orthodoxy and effort without humble and grace-filled hope only lead to defeat.

The Christian has to unlearn Pharisee-righteousness by resting in faith first. THAT will lead to sincere striving for sanctification. Fueled by strong hope.

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The past 2 weeks have brought an unending litany of bad news in our nation and around the world. I don’t even want to list the events because it’s depressing to just mention it all.

It can be overwhelming, frankly. And our limited capacity to take in that much gloom is regularly swamped by an insistent flood of media that pounds us with stark imagery and doomsday opinioneering.

I’m finding myself shutting down and walking away, out of sheer self-preservation. You?

We aren’t designed to carry this much angst. And some of us double or triple the load, by continually carting around the baggage of past regrets, or constantly wringing our hands about an uncertain future.

Me – I’m totally into raking through the ashes of the past. For some reason, I can trust God for the future – He’s big enough for that – but then I hesitate to believe that He’s big enough to fill in all the cracks of my stumbling, stupid, and stubborn past. What kind of crackpot theology is that??

People often say that faith is irrational. Actually, my unbelief is irrational.

It’s hard to keep running the race when you’re carrying baggage, or doubting your arrival at the finish line.

seabiscuitGod is infinitely sovereign over the past, He is infinitely involved in the present, and He is infinitely in charge of the future. Because He’s…God. He’s infinite. Period.

I tend to hold to that theology in my head, while my heart still clings to some idol that is smaller than the circumstances of now, then, and later. That’s when it all becomes overwhelming.

The broken limbs of my faith will, however, heal in time.

We must be careful not to obsess over all the negativity that surrounds us, or that is inside us. Like moths to a light bulb, we find ourselves drawn to gloom and doom. And that darkness can blind us to our only hope for the entire timeline – God Himself.

Give yourself some space to think on good things (Philippians 4:8). Read Psalms that depict the over-all God in His exceeding glory. The past and the future don’t belong to us. Focus on now – including the many blessings that surround us. Let’s not let the gloom sink us. There is hope!

And perhaps, like me last night, shut down all the bad news and just watch Seabiscuit. Because out of busted-up and imperfect can come victory.

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