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Showing posts with the label #Sanctification

Backsliding: We all do it.

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BACKSLIDE'bæk.slaɪdverb. Relapse into bad ways or error.[Backslider 'bæk.slaɪ.dərnoun]The idea behind backsliding is the road to sanctification isn’t level; it’s uphill. A bit of a climb, too. Paved with gravel instead of asphalt, so on the particularly steep parts, the ground’s gonna slip under your feet a little, especially if you’re standing still. It’s the natural consequence of gravity, so you can’t just stand still. You have to keep moving!So yeah, in this metaphor the gravitational pull represents our natural tendency towards self-centeredness and sin. If we drop the effort to climb towards Christ—even for a second—we’re gonna backslide.Now. If the pursuit of Christ is really like this, we Christians oughta be way more gracious and sympathetic to backsliders than we are. I used to hike several times a week, and on every hill there’s always backsliding. On wet days, even with the best shoes, you can always make a misstep and fall on your face. I’ve come back from casual …

Resolutions: Our little stabs at self-control.

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Speaking for myself, I’m not into new year’s resolutions.Because I make resolutions the year round. When I see changes I need to make in my life, I get to work on ’em right away. I don’t procrastinate till 1 January. (Though I may procrastinate just the same.)Here’s the problem with stockpiling all our lifestyle changes till the new year: Come 1 January, we wind up with a vast pile of changes to make. It’s hard enough to make one change; now you have five. Or 50, depending on how much of a trainwreck you are. Multiplying your resolutions, multiplies your difficulty level.But hey, it’s an American custom. So at the year’s end a lot of folks, Christians included, begin to think about what we’d like to change about our lives.Not that we want to change. Some of us don’t! But it’s New Year’s resolution time, and everyone’s asking what our resolutions are, and some of us might grudgingly try to come up with something. What should we change? Too many carbohydrates? Not enough exercise? Too m…

Hallowed be thy name.

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Matthew 6.9, Luke 11.2.In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to ask our Father to ἁγιασθήτωτὸὄνομάσου/aghiasthíto to ónoma su, “sanctify” or “make holy” or “hallowify” (to coin a word) “the name of yours.” The Book of Common Prayer and KJV went with “Hallowed be thy name,” which means the same thing, but Christians commonly misinterpret it to mean “I sanctify your name,” or “I praise your name.” We think this is praise and worship on our part. It’s not. It’s a request for our Father to make his own name holy. For him to act.Part of our presumption comes from a way-too-common Christian misbelief that our prayers aren’t really about asking God to do anything. Because, the attitude is, God doesn’t actually answer prayer. He sits on his heavenly arse, watches us humans stumble around, reminds us to read our bibles, but isn’t gonna intervene in human affairs till the End Times—if they even ever happen. Besides, he’s already planned out everything he’s gonna do, so all our after-the-fact pray…

Worship.

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WORSHIP'wər.ʃəpnoun. Expression of love, respect, and honor, particularly in formal acts or rituals. (Usually expressed to a deity, but frequently to people or principles at a level comparable to religious homage.)2. Feelings of love, respect, and honor for a deity.3. [verb] Showing love, respect, or honor.Properly, worship is anything and everything we do as part of our religious devotion to God. Whether we do it out of active love or passive custom, it’s all still worship.There’s a tendency in charismatic churches to equate worship with worship music. Prayer too, but mostly music. And no, I’m not saying music isn’t a valid form of worship, or a really good form of worship; it totally is. But you know the reason Christians sing a song’s chorus over and over and over again… has nothing to do with whether God loves the song. It’s entirely about how much the music pastor loves it. Or the people of the church.And when it becomes much more about our preferences than God… well, then it…

“Christ-followers”: Rebranding for the wrong reasons.

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CHRIST-FOLLOWER'kraɪst fɑ.loʊ.ərnoun. Adherent or devotee of Christ Jesus.2. One who believes themself a real devotee of Christ, as opposed to other Christians.To be fair, a lot of Christians aren’t doing the title “Christian” any favors.There are irreligious Christians, who figure all they need do is believe, and figure obedience is for suckers people who don’t believe. There are fruitless Christians, whose character is no different than pagans, but who point to their beliefs or works and think that should count for something. There are Christianists, who don’t know there’s any difference between their culture or their politics, and what Jesus teaches—but they clearly aren’t doing as Jesus teaches.And there are Christians who aren’t as bad as all that. They’re working on it. Some harder than others. But let’s give ’em some grace, shall we?But other Christians have decided there are so many substandard Christians, the title “Christian” has simply been ruined. Same as the titles “E…

Holiness… versus goodness.

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SANCTIFY'sæŋ(k).tə.faɪverb. Set apart as holy.2. Have blessed, made legitimate through a religious sanction, or made to seem legitimate through custom and tradition.3. Purify from sin.[Sanctification sæŋ(k).tə.fə'keɪ.ʃənnoun, sanctifier 'sæŋ(k).tə.faɪ(.ə)rnoun.]I bring up the popular definition of sanctify because I wanna point out what we English-speakers mean by sanctification, is not what the scriptures mean.I’ve read loads of Christian books about sanctification. Been reading one in particular lately. The author goes on and on and on about sin, and how it taints humanity, and how Christians ought not do it. (And, well, duh.) But the more he writes on the subject, the more obvious it becomes he’s addressing his own particular hangups. Certain sins he finds really nasty, so he spends a lot of time really pounding away at those sins like a carpenter trying to put thin nails into thick wood: Stop doing those things! You’re making baby Jesus cry.Thing is, he’s not actually…

The fruit of holiness: Let’s get weird.

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Paul’s list of the Spirit’s fruit in Galatians 5 isn’t comprehensive, and isn’t really meant to be.I gotta point that out every time I talk about a fruit which isn’t on Paul’s list, ’cause there’s always some numbnut who says, “That’s not in Galatians 5.” Usually someone who doesn’t like the fruit I’m talking about, so here’s their loophole. Yeah, well, there are other apostles who wrote bible, and some of ’em talked about other fruit. Like Simon Peter:1 Peter 1.13-16 KWL13 So, “girding the loins” of your thinking, being sober,hope till the end for the grace which Christ Jesus’s revelation brought you.14Do it like obedient children, not conforming to the same old patterns of your ignorant desires,15 but like the holy one who called you.Become holy yourselves, in your whole lifestyle.16 For it’s written, “You’ll be holy, because I’m holy.”Lv 19.2God expects us to be holy, which we misinterpret as “good” or “clean,” but really means separate: God wants us to stand out from the rest of t…

Being holy and being solemn: They’re not the same thing.

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Years ago when I taught at a Christian school, our principal decided it’d be neat if we teachers went to a revivalist church for our staff retreat.She was a little surprised at the backlash she got for the idea. Y’see, the school was attached to a Pentecostal church… and not all the teachers were Pentecostal. The non-Pentecostal teachers were barely comfortable visiting our church. Visiting a super-Pentecostal church was way beyond their comfort zone. In the staff room, some of ’em expressed their worry our principal was trying to convert them to Pentecostalism. I figured I knew her well enough to explain no, she really wasn’t. It was just a simple case of being earnest… yet tone-deaf.“All right,” said one of the more conservative teachers, who attended a Fundamentalist independent Baptist church. In this article I’ll call her Rachel. “I’ll give it a try.”It’s a fairly well-known church nowadays, but wasn’t yet so known. It was one of their evening services, when they really cut loose…

Our holiness and God’s holiness.

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Your average person thinks holy is a synonym for awesome: Something’s holy because it’s significantly great, worthy of honor, pure, perfect, or good. They figure God’s holy because he’s so… well, clean. Whereas we humans get awfully dirty.Nope, it’s not what holy means. The Hebrew word qodéš/“holy” means separate—set apart from anything else. The Greek word ágios/“holy” means set apart, specifically for the gods—which the translators of the Septuagint used instead of the similar Greek word agnós, which does mean clean and perfect.It’s this misunderstanding which produces a lot of the vengeful-God ideas about holiness. Because we’ve confused holiness with perfection, God’s holiness (and the constant emphasis the scriptures put on his holiness) leads a lot of us to think God’s really fixated on moral perfection. To them, “God is holy” means “God is good,” and because God is “holy holy holy” Is 6.3, Rv 4.8 —super-duper holy, as the angels describe him—they conclude God must have a very l…