PREPOSITIONS OF HOLY LOVE

 

God's Love - of the atherIt is intriguing how a powerful, little preposition can change the meaning of a sentence. Take the core idea that God is love and with his love he does amazing things depending on the preposition. Each one is a special gift attached to a particular member of the Trinity.

God’s love is for us: Steadfast Love. Out of holy love, Christ gave his life for us, for the whole world. “Who shall separate us from the love of God?”

God’s love is with us: Immanent Love. God was potently with us in Jesus Christ and perpetually with us through the Holy Spirit. Both embody the presence of God.

God’s love is in us: Transformative Love. God’s love in us, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, transforms us. It purifies, perfects, and empowers us and shapes our character after the likeness of Christ.

God’s love through us: Profound love for Neighbor. Holiness is lived out through love of others. God sanctifies and makes pure and effective our love for others.

God’s love is all in all.  It is at its best for, with, in, and through us when is comes from an entire devotion to God. We love God, because he first loved us.

*Excerpts and paraphrases from chapter twelve, “Holiness as Love,” in Diane Leclerc’s Discovering Christian Holiness: The heart of Wesleyan Holiness Theology, (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press), 2010, pp. 279-281.

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THE GARDEN PATCH OF HOLINESS

GARDEN 2A small garden patch in our back yard is waiting for the arrival of spring.  We will plant an abundance of glorious  flowers and possibly some select herbs for cooking.  The patch looks empty and dormant now, but it contains this amazing potential for new life under the right conditions.  With some

Growing saints is not an inaccessible idea when seen through an ecological lense.  Saints, holy people, are grown.  The process is organic.  God uses the fertile, nutrient rich soil of sanctified, holy others in whose company the seed of an individual’s life in the Spirit is entrusted.  God then produces the fruit of faithfulness and obedience.  Jesus made it clear when he declared, “If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).  In short, God establishes garden patches where in the company of others new life in Christ sprouts up. It is nurtured into maturity and fulfills God’s intended plan of sanctification.  He trusts the patch to us all to the glory of the Father.  The garden patch of social holiness is his way of growing saints.  Thanks be to God!

They will be like a well watered garden . . Jeremiah 31:12

 

THE COMPANY WE KEEP

ROAD TO EMMAUS 3

Someone said to me recently, “Tell me in whose company you spend time and I’ll tell you your future.”  At my age most of my future is already my past.  But I get what he meant.  We become the company we keep, especially in those formative years.  The company we keep can be our glory or our demise as young people, young adults, or in the early years of beginning a career.  The people with whom we spend time can bring health and healing, wisdom, opportunities, or a bees nest of trouble if the company is socially and spiritually toxic.  Some people are toxic and can be like the slow workings of arsenic poisoning the spirit, soul, and body.  The company we seek in friendship and fellowship makes all the difference.  It is a matter of what’s healthy or toxic exposures and encounters.

Thirty-five years ago, back in 1980 & ‘81, I served in an adjunct faculty position in psychology at the University of Hawaii while at the same time the Chief Administrator of an array of mental health, drug, and alcohol recovery programs.  In the eight programs operated by The Salvation Army on the Island of Oahu, it was the Womens’ Way residential program that worked exceptionally well with addicted women and their children to restore them physically, socially, and spiritually to health and wellbeing.  Womens’ Way diverted women from the criminal justice system into treatment permitting them to bring their children with them. A woman’s stay in the  program was only temporary lasting nine to twelve months.  It was artificial in not being the reality in which they would live for the remainder of their lives.   Eventually the women had to enter back into the real world.  But there would be variations on their real world going foreward depending on the company they chose to keep.

A major principle of the program was to help the women and their kids eventually become established in a healthy, positive social and spiritual context that would continue the process of healing and lead to complete restoration.  This included avoiding the old life, the old neighborhood, and old toxic friends.  It meant helping them keep company with those who are healthy, loving, kind, generous, and affirming rather than others who were like social/spiritual Ebola, toxic, exploitive, and dangerous.  The company they were to keep going forward would make all the difference.  It would ensure the glory of recovery and restoration or their recidivism, exploitation, and demise

At the heart of the program was introducing the women and their children to Christian faith communities.  We knew that there were grace filled, Bible believing fellowships on Oahu  who would embrace them, love them, and give the support that would strengthen them in their faith.  The social/spiritual milieu of a church family would help them discover Jesus and accept his loving embrace.  It would nurture and strengthen their faith and help them see the esteem that God has for them.  The company they would keep in such a faith community and the glory of God revealed in their love would be their glory as well.  The women and children who recovered from the trash bins of life would discover the love of Christ in the presence of His company.  His company today is their glory.  It’s all about the company we keep too!  Tell me the company you keep and I’ll guess your future.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all life will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33

DISTRACTIONS OLD AND NEW

Distractions old and newJust the other day I was having breakfast with my son-in-law and grandson at a Lexington, Kentucky Cracker Barrel.  On our table was one of those old games with fourteen golf tees and fifteen holes in a triangular piece of wood.  To achieve the highest score, you had to eliminate thirteen tees but one. Its like playing checkers.  I gave up after two tries, but a moment of insight came to me as I looked around the restaurant.  The game is a great distraction and it interferes with conversation.  It takes you away from meaningful interaction with the other people at the table.  Then I realized that’s exactly what texting does!  Both short circuit the potential enrichment of a meal together and frankly the distraction diminishes the opportunities to affirm and learn from the other(s) at the table.

Remembering the post resurrection story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and the dinner scene, can you imagine one of them playing the golf tees and holes game or texting at the table instead of watching Jesus break the bread and reveal his identity as Lord and Saviour?  Too often we get distracted and miss sacred moments in the company of others who are means through whom God wishes to share his grace and reveal his identity.  Or, we are his means of grace, his human agents who are too busy with the trivial to be of any divine good.  Whether it is an old or new form of distraction, stay attentive.  Remain alert.  We become the company we keep and/or the channel God is counting on.