SALVATION IN ALL ITS FULLNESS

I came that they may have life in all its fullness. [to the full, till it overflows]

John 10:10

cup.overflowing.1What is full salvation? It’s a term we’ve heard in Wesleyan holiness contexts, but not always understood. To answer the question two other questions are helpful. What is the difference between a saved person, one who by faith received Christ’s salvation from sin, and a person who is being saved (Acts 2:47)? Another way to ask is this, “What does fulfillment of salvation look like?” The 1st person is saved from the penalty and gilt of past sin (justification by faith). They become members of a local church and get busy in the life of the faith community.   The 2nd person does the same, but also goes on to being continually saved through the ongoing formation of sanctification by the Spirit. The former (1st) is like being given the whole loaf of bread, but only consuming half. The later (2nd) responds to the grace offered in the fullness of the bread of life, the whole loaf. The former risks a kind of arrested spiritual development falling short of what God fully intends for us. The later leads to a fullness of the spirit (Ephesians 3:19b) characterized by an undivided heart of perfect love in obedience to Christ’s great commandment to love both God and others profoundly (Matthew 22:36-40). The former is the experience of a Christian whose life is one of contentment wading around in the shallow tide pools of initial salvation, while the latter experiences the joys of fully plunging into the deep waters of holiness and sanctified service to the glory of God. The former wrestles with the tensions between diversified self-interest and God’s call to other-oriented, self-giving love, while the later embraces God’s call along with what sacrifices it may cost.

The former expresses gratitude to God for personal salvation and daily blessings. The later expresses joy, thanks, and praise out of a hunger and a thirst satisfied by more of God’s perfect love and passes it back to God and on to others. The former in weakness still struggles with temptations and a discomfort of conscience due to remaining sin and a remaining carnal nature. The later rejoices in a power over temptation and sin in a strength that comes with obedient faith on the high road of holiness. For the former there still is bondage to sin tied to old habits, old, temptations, and old desires. The later rejoices in freedom, for “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) For the
former, what counts is being saved from sin. For the later, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing it self in love.” (Galatians 5:6). Fulfillment comes from taking in the whole loaf of a full salvation.  loaf-of-bread

Bread for the Journey. Glory to God!

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SEEING INTO THE FUTURE

Who can tell the future other than God? Some times we can to a degree. A wise sage once said, “Tell me with whom you spend time and I’ll tell you your future.” The company we keep can well foretell the profound impact others likely will have on our lives and our possible impact on others. Here are two examples:

John Wesley and William Wilberforce

John WesleyWilliam_Wilberforce 1

Often an admired mentor becomes a close friend. Such friendship emerged for a young William Wilberforce with the older John Wesley (JW). Wilberforce (1759–1833) was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. He was spiritually mentored by John Wesley (1703-1791), his senior by forty-two years. At age thirty-two, while visiting Wesley on his deathbed, he was encouraged by Wesley to continue the fight in Parliament he had started. That fight was to abolish slavery throughout England and the United Kingdom. Following JW’s passing, Wilberforce went on for forty-two years to politically mobilize pressure on the British Parliament to change the law. Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. As a mentor and confidant, Wesley helped his young friend shape the future. He was the company William Wilberforce kept.

Stanley Jones and Martin Luther King

GHANDI & ESJgandhiking

The company we keep can be alive and physically present, but it can also be someone whose writings we read. Martin Luther King (MLK, 1929-1968) was a divinity student at the Boston University in the 1950s. At the time he began reading E. Stanley Jones’ (ESJ, 1884-1973) writings (Christ of the Indian Road, Christ of the American Road, The Word Become Flesh, and other Jones’ books) found in the school of theology library. ESJ was a Methodist missionary to India for fifty five years, throughout most of the twentieth century. He always wrote about Christ. Christ was at the center of his ministry and writing. Jones also wrote extensively about his long time, intimate friend, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1944). MLK discovered his books on the shelves in the Boston University Theology library and began (indirectly) spending spending time with Gandhi.   The intimacy of ESJ’s friendship with Gandhi and the discipline of writing books had a lasting impact on Martin Luther King. Jones was the literary company MLK kept. As a result, King came to know, appreciate, and emulate the civil disobedience strategies of the Gandhi whom he never actually met.

John Wesley, William Wilberforce, E. Stanley Jones, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King were all influenced by the company they kept and that they became. Through human agency God occasioned a long-standing, redemptive impact on untold millions of others. With whom do we spend our time? Tell me the company we keep, but also the company we become, and together we may see God at work shaping the future.

“Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”   (Philippians 2:4)

TATTOO TESTIMONIES

GOOGLE “PICTURES OF TATTOOS.” UP ON THE SCREEN WILL COME MANY SURPRISING AND DISTURBING IMAGES. ALL SERVE AS PERSONAL TESTIMONIES.

TATTOO SCORPIONWhat’s with tattoos? Everyone seems to have at least one. So far they are the fad of the twenty-first century. There was a time in recent history that only marines, merchant mariners, Tongan warriors, and the Yakuza had tattoos. Now tattoo parlors are everywhere. Young people are not the only ones sporting tattoos. It’s a reality across the age spectrum. Once you get one, it’s easy to get two, then three, and then the right arm, chest and leg. Their artfulness varies from strikingly beautiful to down right ugly, from the sacred and spiritually inspiring to the aberrant and wicked. What’s with all that?

I don’t have a tattoo, but I have questions starting with “why?” Why get a tattoo? What’s the purpose of a tattoo? Does it define us? Is it better to have than not have one? What’s the benefit? What’s the consequence of not having one? With aging, will tattoos loose their shape, become blurred, and lead to guessing what it was meant to say or look like in the first place?

I hold some settled views regarding the purpose of so much ink under the skin. There’s likely a long list of reasons, but regardless, aren’t tattoos a testimony, a proclamation, an attempt to declare a message as personal as the one tattooe? Do they not serve to part the curtain and allow others to peek at one’s values, priorities, hopes, and aspirations, fears, frustrations, and identities.

TATTOO MISSPELLED Inevitably, whether visible or hidden, they’re a conversation starter and often a source of pride (unless misspelled). Tattoos are a testimony.
They testify to what’s important, to the company we keep or want to impress, and with whom we identify. Here’s my biggest question: For a sincere follower of Jesus Christ, so what? Might their tattoo testimony start with their faith and desire to please God? For example, if you could ask every tattooed Christian if their tattoo was inspired by the holy spirit or derived from Christ’s life and teachings such as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and his proclamations: Blessed are the pure in heart, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the peacemakers, what would their story turn out to be? Jesus said we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and to let our light shine so others may see our good deeds (read tattoos) and glorify the Father in heaven.

While I don’t plan to get a tattoo, I do plan to connect with people about their tattoo(s). They are terrific conversation starters like “I noticed your tattoo. How long have you had it? Do you have any others? Will you get another one? What do you want it to say about you? Does it have a message for others?” Tattoos are a starting point for meeting others and beginning a reciprocal conversation that can go somewhere special. If you are thinking about getting a visible tattoo, consider it a form of testimony. Could it proclaim something that helps another navigate life? Could one’s tattoos open up a space for sharing Christ to the glory to God?

Life is working in you . . . so that the grace that is reaching more and more people                                      may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.                                                                                 2Corinthians 4:12&15

IN THE SECRET OF GOD’S PRESENCE

 

In the secret of thy presence where the pure in heart may dwell,

Are the springs of sacred service and a power that none can tell.

There my love must bring its offering. There my heart must yield its praise,

And the Lord will come, revealing all the secrets of his ways.

Albert Orsborn (1886-1967) SASB 766

HOLINESS & WILL

From where springs the inspiration of great poets and songwriters? By great I mean inspiration and word crafting that touches us in the depths of our souls, stirs our hearts, and moves us to seek greater intimacy with God. Such is the work of Charles Wesley, Albert Orsborn, and Catherine Baird. In the first verse of this particular piece, Salvation Army General Albert Orsborn captures the Apostle Paul’s prayer (Ephesians 3:16&17) –      “I pray that out of his (God the Father’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” It occurs to me that the inspiration of great poets/songwriters derives from the same source as Paul’s writings, from their prayer life in the dwelling intimacy of in their inner life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Inspiration comes from taking the time to dwell in the secret, intimate space of God’s presence. It is where the pure in heart find rest, reflection and renewal. Dwelling in his presence is where inspired saints become “participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). From that privileged position flows the creative articulation of what is on God’s heart. It is how God as Trinity lets us in on the conversation and does so for the purpose, like Paul, of passing it on to others. In the secret of God’s presence he inspires (breaths into), informs, and stirs our hearts to expire (breath out) the creative words that reveal “all the secrets of his ways.”  Thanks be to God!

Take time to be holy, speak oft with they Lord,

Abide in him always, and feed on his word . . .