“…we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. ….everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
–I John 3:3
As you get ready for tomorrow, remember….
1. First, the world’s quest for purification
Politics is on our minds these days, isn’t it?
Down in Texas, one candidate says “Y’all means y’all” while in California another chooses a more direct approach: “we stand united against hate”.
In either case, the message mirrors biblical themes of purity: those who understand what is good, what is righteous, will “resonate” with these themes… they will unite with us…*
Others, of course, take some real offense here and counter with their own slogans, seeking a majority…
Remember: life is not ultimately about such things.
It is not about the particular earthly princes of the day – those we think might help us, help Christians, help America, help the poor, the outsider, etc.
These questions are not unimportant,
But they are not ultimate either…
Our Hope, after all, is not in earthly princes, horses, chariots.
Our Prince of Peace and His direction are that which ultimately matters.
And He comes to you, even now, with real tidings of peace, not condemnation.
…inviting you to renew your mind,
…see things with new eyes,
…to walk in faith.
At home, at church, at your work, in your neighborhood, in your nation… etc. ..
2. How are we made pure?
What does it mean to be pure anyways?
Have you heard the phrase “pure as the driven snow”? Driven snow is snow that has been blown by the wind, into drifts and such.
The kid in me concludes that it’s the kind of snow you can eat.
In any case the expression isn’t used as much these days, but it is used to speak, sometimes disparagingly, about things like moral purity, chastity, and virginity. (also rarer terms these days).
And of course in our everyday language, pure means something that is uncontaminated.
There is no defilement or spoliation. And to purify something means to bring it to this state.
And if a person has been purified, is pure, this evokes the idea of not only outer, but inner cleanliness… to the very center of one’s being. Through and through.
How, then, does the Bible say this takes place? It says that true purity, purity that lasts and is never faked, is rooted in God.
Only God, after all, is truly good, truly pure.
So, when it comes to us poor sinners, being pure, in the most simple sense, means to believe and hope in God, as opposed to the world, false in its love, which rages against Him.
In I Peter chapter 1, the Apostle says you have purified yourselves. How?
By submitting to what you heard: you believe, Peter says, the words of testimony about Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.
And revealed in these last times for our sakes!
And it is because of this truth, Peter says, that you have true love for each other. Therefore, he says “love one another deeply, from the heart,”
This is what it means to be pure.
3. Living in That Purity
“Keep yourselves pure…” (I Tim. 5:22).
The question of living in God’s purity has to do with what God’s purity and holiness is.
It is this:
He, and He alone, is the Love which burns through Evil en route to rescuing those lost in the darkness.
In Christ’s work, we see the charred remains of sin, death, and the devil.
He did this for us.
And so when it comes to us… the implication is that we have – and create – spaces and places where this message can be heard, believed and lived.
The mission we have is never about God’s people being intrinsically superior than others…
Rather, this is about True sight, True seeing… I was blind but now — because of Him — I see!
Being blessed to know not only where the bread is which we share – the Forgiveness of sins which heals and nourishes… but also knowing where True Life is in Fullness.
What is that?
There is a King we know who is simple (yes America, there is!) One we long for.
Who loves His people, who is loyal… but who does not let sin go unpunished….
Who will not allow us to live in our lies, our lusts, our pride, our selfishness… “Tough love,” some still call it today.
He is ready to refine us again, and He will stop at nothing to make us more His…
So don’t say, for example, “am I my brother’s keeper?” They are all your brothers!…
You are to love your brethren in Christ first of all,
…and in this world you must look to provide for family first,
…but all are your brothers…
The Christian life never has as its goal alienation and cutting one’s self off, but we call people–even our enemies (yes, use some discretion!) — into our spaces, into our places, to participate with us “in the life that is truly life”.
Though He has hard words, demanding words, damning words, Jesus’ default orientation is not to condemn, but save – from the horror of sin, the destruction of death, and the lies and wiles of the devil.
…and His heart is now ours.
This is the life to which he has called us….with these truths we must practically wrestlle in the church… and beyond…
What does the Lord require of me now? What does love mean now, in this or that circumstance? Why can’t more of us see eye to eye?
Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely! Anyone who is thirsty…
With Him, we’re ready.
We were washed and we ARE baptized, belonging to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Come Lord Jesus.
We desperately need you.
* Alan Jacobs speaks, intriguingly, of the “the reality of life within the mythical core, with all its experiences of defilement and desecration…” (read more here).