Thursday, June 18, 2015

Holiness Hygiene, or "Lord, Pass Me Some Soap"

“Hand cleaning is your professional responsibility” the hospital sign announced, prompting Epidemiologist Donald Goldman to caution hospital patients not to worry about speaking up, or of “offending” health-care providers. Shorthanded and harried hospital personnel sometimes get so busy they neglect to wash their hands. Goldman further suggested that if the computer industry could institute clean rooms, “health care should do no less.” Dean of Nursing Students at Georgetown University, Elaine Larson, concurred.

Frequent hand washing contributes to clean health-care facilities and to healthy bodies. There is also that spiritual hygiene that cleanses the human heart and builds healthy human relationships and wholesome communities in which to live. We awoke this very morning to discover that a twenty-one year-old Confederate ideologue shot and killed nine black Christians during a Bible Study in one of America’s oldest black churches.

America’s lack of moral and spiritual hygiene is reflected in the fact that President Obama has been circumstantially forced to speak to the nation following more than a dozen mass shootings since he took office. The gospel of Christ speaks to this moral dilemma of humanity--and it is far more than just an unresolved community issue--by telling us how to experience ethical metamorphosis, something that no agency of government can do and no other social agency or Advocacy Group is able to resolve.

Paul, the first century Christian Apostle to the non-Jewish world, experienced just such a moral transformation. He was en route to Damascus to further harass, terrorize, and imprison the Followers of the Way, as Christians were then known. He was, however, confronted  by a surprisingly supra-natural confrontation by Jesus as the Risen Christ, while travelling to Damascus--extraordinarily unexpected.

Saul experienced a moral reformation—a metamorphosis so complete that although he went into his cocoon as Saul, the arrogant Jewish Pharisee and murderous terrorist; he came out of his cocoon as Paul the Christian Apostle to the Gentiles, author of a classic definition of love, and beautiful as a Monarch Butterfly  (cf. I Cor. 13).  

Saul’s transition to Christian Apostleship as Paul prompted him to initiate a whole new approach to issues of personal faith—"the just shall live by faith." As a result, everywhere he went he challenged everybody that would listen to strive for life’s highest and best, by the grace of God. He urged audiences to discover God for themselves and learn how life with Jesus transforms one’s personhood, perspectives, customs and habits, and even one’s very life.

Paul’s metamorphosis enabled him to mentor people in responding to life in ways that reflect Christ’s claims upon their lives and ours. He argued that “rightness” (meaning righteousness) becomes a reality in our lives as we become obedient “from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you [we] became slaves of righteousness”  (Romans 6:17-19, NASV).

As the Maestro of this eternal symphony that we call life, Jesus Christ offers to tune the strings of our life-instrument, empower us to walk lovingly with Him, and direct us in walking wisely with others  in and out of the church (cf. Col. 4:5). He alone transforms the cacophony of pain and broken relationships that we have composed as our expressions of life; he alone can re-configure our efforts into the beautiful harmony of meaningful interdependent relationships and raise our lives above the slavery of self-indulgence and sin.

The Church of Jesus Christ, by its very presence, proclaims the possibilities of conversion (personal metamorphosis). It alone offers possibilities of a united community made up of one humanity that is no longer Jew and Gentile, slave or free, (“having put to death the enmity”, Eph. 2:16 NASV). 
And when the church is lives by the Manual that brought it into existence (Bible), it reconfigures social living and models human community as God intended it to be lived. This is the major theme of the NT Book of Ephesians as Paul described it.     

We can deny the existence of God, but HE will not be denied or ignored. When we ignore HIM, we do it to the moral destruction of all  that is meaningful and worthwhile in life. In other words, we break ourselves on his rules

And right now, our global community is doing a good job of destroying itself with wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing, poverty, and you can finish my sentence.

From Warner’s World, this is

praying, “Father, forgive us for our violent ways. . .”

No comments: