Musing on 2 Peter & Jude, Part 2:
God created us with volition, intellect, and self-awareness. He didn’t program robots.
He designed us to be in relationship with him. His loving presence impacts our wills, affections, and actions. We must think, because a response is required. We want to respond! We want to be like him! This is the essence of vital communion with God.
Godly and fruitful actions are produced when we respond to the Holy Spirit’s work in us. For this, we were made.
Christ is the gospel. Through him, God does all the work. We respond. We cooperate.
This is how God changes us. Reflecting, thinking, and doing go hand in hand. To make every effort to confirm our election, as 2 Peter 1:10-11 commands us to do, we must reflect on our motives and our actions. If we truly belong to him, we want to.
In my last blog post I posed the question: Are We Goats? Since Christianity is a faith of introspection and repentance that results in sacrificial and benevolent action, there should be evidence of transformation. Are we truly saved? The answer affects us eternally.
There must be fruit if we are alive in Christ and the Holy Spirit resides within. Is there?
As architect of the church, Christ built into our faith specific times for reflection, just so we don’t forget. The taking of communion calls us to examine ourselves.
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:27-32 ESV).
Becoming sick and dying are not normally results we expect from approaching communion irreverently or with an unexamined life, but that is what happened in Corinth. Taking communion lightly by not inspecting our consciences profanes Christ’s sacrifice of himself, making little of it.
Mindful of his passion for us that resulted in his gruesome death, our hearts are drawn to him. We feel the weight of our daily sin. We repent of it. We come clean. What a relief! Not only that, but when we make a clear-eyed appraisal, we eliminate disciplinary action and possible condemnation along with the world—the consequence promised to unbelievers.
In other words: Are We Goats or Are We Sheep? The evidence should show in our lives.
Self-examination is essential for keeping a clear conscience. Since we’re sinners, though redeemed and forgiven, this must be habitual. We must be truthful with the Lord about our weaknesses. Our relationship with him must be honest. He sees it all anyway.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:7-10 ESV).
Most of us aren’t guilty of navel-gazing self-condemnation. Usually, we skim on by, basking in our freedom in Christ and our assurance of salvation, often overlooking reflection and confession. However, the apostolic scripture writers were concerned with either response, because both are out of balance. They told mature believers that self-reflection was essential.
Faith is a personal high-wire balancing act. We are poised between too much self-condemnation and too little self-reflection. Being more like Christ is the goal. Peter’s second letter emphasizes self-reflection as an essential component to confirm our salvation. Both Jude and Peter stress the security of our salvation, for God keeps and guards us.
What is said about that? More next week….
Are communion and self-reflection a vital component of your life?
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