Purify Yourselves

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is God’s will for my life?” I highly doubt many, if any, suggest they have never wondered what God’s will is. We live in a Christian sub-culture which boldly proclaims the idea that God has a single perfect plan for each individual just waiting to be discovered. Well, I get to say, “Yep. God sure does have a specific will for every Christian. And. . . I know what it is for every Christian.”

Shocked?

Don’t be. It’s actually not that complicated. It is, however, difficult. What is God’s will?

Here it is: “let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor. 7:1)

God’s will for every Christian is to become an inner monastery, a cloister that lives in the world while being radically separate in its’ desires, hopes, acquisitions, and deeds. The Lord calls specifically to each person telling each to become internally and personally what the monastery stood for corporately. We are called to purity.

Purity in our culture is an unending pursuit. What does purity look like in 21st century America? Answering that question might be slightly different for different people. The Lord leads each of us through our own individual valley’s of shadow away from temptation towards Christ-likeness. How we might get to purity may vary, but the end result is the same. We are to look, love, speak, and act like Christ.

St. Paul says more than the command to purify. He says also what to purify ourselves from. What exactly does St. Paul say? . . .”everything that contaminates body and spirit.”

Here’s where I find this passage most encouraging. St. Paul does not give a list of everything that contaminates body and spirit. Rather, he simply acknowledges 1) contamination does occur and 2) purity is required. So, how do we know what contaminates us and what doesn’t? Why not simply give us the check list and let us go at it? Scripture has a better way than that.

What St. Paul speaks of involves far more than reading a list and checking off those completed items. St. Paul invites us into a living relationship where as we walk in Christ’s footsteps, those things that contaminate us will become more evident. As we learn to know Him more and more, our sense of our impurity will grow. The Holy Spirit will speak to our souls about what needs go; our eyes will see the truth about who we are. And, when we are seen through the eyes of Christ, what needs purification will become evident. Let me give you a silly example.

Years ago before I was married and I lived with a roommate, one of the shows we found rather hilarious was “Family Guy.” As time passed and as my own faith began to develop, I found the show began to “contaminate body and soul.” As my walk with Jesus continued, other areas of unhealthy media exposure were made clear. I began assessing what I watched and what I listened to. Has perfection been reached here? No. But the continual questioning of motives, desires, and influence is a sign (hopefully) of spiritual growth.

What contaminated my body and soul are not necessarily what contaminate any one else’s. That’s where we Christians need to be willing to remember the spiritual journey’s of our brothers and sisters might look different, and that’s okay. St. Paul writes in another letter how some Christians at that time were offended by the eating of meat offered to idols while other brothers who knew idols were noting at all were fine eating the meat. Both approaches were approved of as long as the individual believer was confident in his convictions. The only rule laid down regarding meat (or any other peripheral issues) was no believer was to flaunt his way as the way and judge those who were different.

The central issue for St. Paul was growth in holiness out of reverence for God. It seemed impossible for St. Paul to believe someone’s profession of faith without also seeing daily, upward growth towards Christ-likeness. If I really believe what God has done for me in and through Jesus Christ, it would be impossible for my life to remain unchanged. Impossible.

What does my life say?

Am I any different today than this date last year?

In the final analysis, holiness is the Christian’s main call. Too many people spend far too long wondering, “What is God’s will for my life?” Stop asking what God’s will is and starting doing God’s will. No more excuses for any of us. No more meandering through the world looking for signs from heaven. We are to create in our hearts the same other-worldliness, purity, silence, and holiness the monasteries of the world create externally. Our souls and bodies should be made to serve Jesus their true Lord while living “in the world” the same way the souls and bodies of those in monasteries are made to serve Jesus “out of the world.”

Maybe the rolled eyes and strange reactions the majority gives to those entering physical monasteries should be not too dissimilar to “everyday Christians” whose lives are so radically centered on personal and communal holiness. After all, holiness and purity are God’s will. Go and do.

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