Pursue Godliness While You Wait: Week 1 of Advent [02DEC2013]
Readings: Psalm 1, 2, 3, ◊ Amos 2:6-16 ◊ 2 Peter 1:1-11 ◊ Matt. 21:1-11 ◊
The Philokalia—Vol.3: Forty Texts on Watchfulness, St. Philotheos of Sinai
We wait for our Lord and the Light of his coming, but a watchful wait is never passive. We live in the timeline of the Lord’s final coming. We look back historically with an eye to the prophets, learning the rich truths of God’s redemptive work as it has been revealed through history and the written word of the Holy Scriptures. We also personally experience the spiritual coming of Christ with confessional agreement and acceptance of the atoning redemptive work of salvation through the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit of God. But. We watch and we wait…still. The Kingdom is here, in us and among us, but not yet in the full. We watch and we wait for the final coming of Jesus.
Scripture and the saints who have journeyed before us teach that our wait is not passive. We engage in attaining and developing the virtues that make us more Christ-like.
“…for godliness is perfection that is never complete.” St. John Klimakos
One of the hallmarks of my Christian tradition is the doctrine of entire sanctification or the pursuit of Christian perfection. There is considerable debate among the traditions about what these terms mean and how they are lived out along the way of the Christian journey, but despite the differences of doctrine there remains the tension of the Scriptures themselves, which demand from us a response. For instance, what does a Christ-pursuing believer do with the words of the apostle Peter that follow here below:
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
“I have given them the glory you gave me..” Jesus (John 17:22)
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9 NLT)
Clearly, the instructions and exhortation of Peter imply that our wait is an active involvement in the process of sanctification and Christian virtue. The words “Make every effort…” are difficult to interpret in any other way. Certainly, none of this work of godly perfection is done on our own or in a void; God is the Chief Architect and enabler, Peter has made this clear in the qualifying statements in the first section of this passage of text. We ask for God’s assistance, He enables and empowers. We pray and we wait for God to come. Each and every moment surrendered to God is wholly filled with the over-flowing grace and fullness of his presence. We wait. We surrender. He comes. He gives.
“Tell the people… ‘Look, your King is coming to you.’” (Matthew 21:5)
Psalm and a Prayer
O the joys of those who delight in the Law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the river bank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Lord help me to be fully alive to your holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours. At this moment, Lord, I turn my thoughts to you.
O Lord, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me.