Tag Archives: holiness

Not Even a Hint? How Is That POSSIBLE?

17 Sep
The eye of a needle.

The eye of a needle. Image via Wikipedia

Lots happening.  But we have to finish dealing with purity before we get into the other stuff…

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Eph. 5:3-6

The thing that troubles me about this passage is the same thing that gives me hope:  God is exacting in His standards.

“Not even a hint” makes it clear that God has a zero tolerance policy for sexual immorality, as well as impurity and greed.  I tend to think that the specificity of God’s directive has to do with the way that a lot of us tend to think.  Hearing that sexual immorality is prohibited, I, for one, would be quick to confirm to the Lord that I do not engage in any kind of sexually immoral acts.  I would convince myself that all the things that I don’t do sexually bestow upon me righteousness.   To help me to see clearly my non-holiness and His utter holiness, God includes the directive not only that I must have sexually integrity, but also that I must be pure. 

Ahh, purity. 

Purity does not refer to deeds in the same way that sexual immorality does, but moreso to that illusive cleanness, uprightness, and goodness that Holiness demands.  I recall how explicitly God expressed His standards of cleanness and purity when He gave detailed requirements to the Israelites as to how He was to be worshiped.  He was specific about the clothes to be worn—and the quality of the fabric of those clothes, the food to be eaten—and when and how it was to be eaten, the utensils to be used, the fragrance of the incense to be burned; every detail spoke to holiness and purity in the worship of God.

In the old days purity meant a heart for God that compelled adherence to ceremonial standards.  These days purity means a heart for God that compels one to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Purity goes beyond “I’m not doing anything sexually immoral,”  and gets to “Am I right, clean, and good in my heart attitude?  Have I looked at anyone with eyes reflecting a lustful heart? Have I spoken to anyone with words reflecting a profane heart?  Have I thought of anyone, or anything, in a way that reflects a corrupt or envious heart?”

I think of God’s command that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity (or greed, which issue we’ll save for another day) among us Christians and I am certain that this command, “not even a hint,” is well nigh impossible.  And then I remember that Jesus gave us the only solution that is to be had: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 

The same truth must apply here.  Otherwise, how does one achieve the state of existing with “not even a hint” of impurity?  Where is this church that Christ is coming back for that is without spot, blemish, or wrinkle?  Who will be the Christian bold (or ignorant) enough to proclaim that he embodies holiness, since without Holiness no man shall see the Lord?

I won’t speak for you, but I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I am counting on being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I am reminding myself that it is in him I live, and move, and have my being.

If God has commended me to 100% purity and freedom from sexual immorality, then the God who has called me is faithful, and He will do it!

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Yes But How Do You Keep Hope Alive?

30 Sep

After going out with Courthouseman in the spring,  it became clear that we were in two different places of faith.  Ultimately I told him that there was no future between us.  I came to miss his attentiveness and generosity.

I got friendlier with Bronxman in the spring also.  He is a perfectly eligible Christian man, who is pursuing me, only: a) he’s fiftyish, which is too old for me if you believe that one should stay within a 7 to 9 year range of ones age when dating; b) he’s never been married and has no children; c) he’s not so good at relating interpersonally.  He seems funny and full of witticism, but it becomes quickly apparent that he is easily overwhelmed by deeper talk.  Towards the end of summer, I mentally decided to move away from Bronxman to spare myself the frustration.

Then last week CB, whom I dated for a while at the end of 2007, and whom I had a mutually agreed upon break-up with (really!), let me in on the secret that he’s been hinting at revealing to me for months.  (It seems that somewhere between our first break-up in January, and our second break-up in March(?), we’ve become friends, which feels only slightly weird.)  With much nervousness and some embarrassment he tells me that he’s going to be a father.  He had a one-time thing with an ex and when he next saw her, several weeks later, she announced her pregnancy.  They’re due in November.  It’s a boy.  He does not see marriage to her happening. He is getting a paternity test.  I am happy for him because I know how much he wants to be a father and to have a son.   I am happy that he’s showing great kindness to the mother of his son and taking full responsibility both for her during her pregnancy, and for the son who will arrive in November.  I’m glad that he told me and that I did not hear this news secondhand.  I am even a little glad that he was nervous about telling me.   Later though, after I leave him, a part of me wonders, “Will I ever have a son?”   A part of me for a moment, just a part you understand, laments holiness. 

Three days later I’m attending the funeral of a woman that I do not know at all.  A well-loved saint.  I say to my mother on the morning of the funeral, “I don’t think I should go.  I don’t know her.”  My mother responds, “But you go to encourage the family; to support the people who are still here.”  I think of the deceased’s son Jimmy, who was my former Youth President.  And the daughter of the deceased, Becky, whom I’ve been friendly with for years.  I say, “Yes, I can show support for those who are here.  Yes, I will go to the funeral.” 

The funeral is far from sad.  There is a triumphant mood.  There are familiar faces that cause me to feel a connection to this departed saint.  I see people I grew up with in the youth ministry.  I see the leaders from my old church.  I look back and see, I do believe, a guy that I know from elementary school.  I see Jimmy and Becky, and their siblings with whom I am less familiar.  It is good that I have come.  

After the funeral as I approach my car, the guy from elementary school walks towards his van, parked next to me.  He looks at me.  I smile and say, “KS, right?”  He says, I thought that was you.  He is tall, with very greying hair.  We chat.  I ask about the organization named on the van.  He offers that the name is a tribute to his late wife.  He tells me about his non-profit youth organization; that one of the sons of the deceased works for him.  KS asks if I’m still local, if I’m married with children.  I say, yes, still local; no marriage, no kids. 

He is discreetly checking me out in my black dress and heels.  It begins to rain.  I have no umbrella.  He opens his umbrella over us and we stand closer. 

I ask him if he is still local.  He is.  He works as a middle school dean a couple of towns over.  He is working towards becoming a school principal.  We both live in the same town. 

People who know me from church drive past and beep their horns as they wave goodbye.  They walk by and call out to me, “It was good seeing you.”  I know that it will be discussed later that after the funeral I was standing in the rain talking to this man.  There will be speculation.  I do not mind.  

KS tells me about a website where alums from our town re-connect.   I don’t know if I qualify as an alum since I did not graduate from our town’s high school.  “I went to private school,” I say.  He answers, “It doesn’t matter.  I went to a private high school as well.”  We learn that we went to the same high school.  That we graduated in the same class.  All four years we both attended that school.  All four years we caught the same school bus to take us there and to bring us back home.  Neither of us recalls the other from those days.

I do not have a card with me, but I take his card.  He watches as I turn to walk away.