There is a very fascinating spiritual discipline which is called for in Hebrews 12:14: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Holiness seems like such an ‘other-worldly’ concept, so removed from the “stink and stuff” or our earthly and existential struggles. But …not so! Holiness is the lifestyle of the new creation, of our identification with the character and image of the Triune God. It is God’s divine nature being radiantly displayed in our daily lives, and in the vicissitudes of our sojourn, not in some ‘never-never-land’ but in the struggles and realities of our pilgrimage as aliens and exiles, and in our discipline to cast off the works of darkness and to put on the garments of light.

One wag is reputed to have said that there were three things which they did not discuss in his church: “sex, politics, and religion.” We can laugh at that, but those are some of the most ever-present issues with which we struggle in our everyday lives, and from which we are to be putting off our old nature and putting on our new, our new humanity. We need to ‘get real.’ While we are assaulted on the internet with every conceivable dimension of our human greed, sexual misdemeanors (pornography), public and private characteristics of our cultural darkness, the apostle teaches that we are to think on “what is true, just, honorable, lovely, pure, and of good report” (Philippians 4:8).

Ah! So here we are in a year with all kinds of discouraging and ethically-challenged politics and are faced with an election which includes some candidates of dubious characters. We have to register as a member of a party, but we much choose the candidates, and the party who most conform to the ethics of our new humanity (which often is quite difficult to discern). Ah! but it in such existential realities that we are not to seek escape, but to seek peace and holiness “without which no man shall see God.”

Add to that, we ae inescapably experiencing a global pandemic that show no signs of diminishing, not to mention a world with over seventy million refugees. And replete with racial hatreds in nearly every quarter of the globe.

What is one to do?

I look at this world from my comfortable home, in a lovely sub-division with covenants of mutual caring and including residents from many ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. And I am a disciple of Jesus who came to minister to the exiles and strangers, to feed the hungry, to visit this in prison, and to heal the sick—to love others as he loves us. How do I fit this into the injustices, the very real displays of unrighteousness, racial hatreds, and violence so obvious in our daily news reports?

I begin, doing my best to choosing in the election those persons and platforms that most hopefully exhibit the ethics of God’s new creation. Then I look at human need, and by taking seriously Jesus’ call, and to write into my budget those ministries that are efficiently bring real help to the world’s helpless, beginning with local food bank. Then giving generously to:

  1. The International Rescue Committee (which dates back to World War II.
  2. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
  3. The Southern Poverty Law Center (a legal ministry to the legally helpless).
  4. The American Civil Liberties Union (another ministry to the legally helpless).
  5. And, finally, Amnesty International (also a legal ministry to the helpless).

Holiness: That my offering for the day.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Ann Rose says:

    Your reflection today shows your gift for weaving together so seamlessly the spiritual idea of living out your call as a Christian and nailing down practical ways to do that. Especially in the necessary lockdown lifestyle we’re experiencing now, your guidance is so helpful. Thanks again for almost 60 years of mentoring.

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