Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Growing Along the Way

5But for this very reason also, using therewith all diligence, in your faith have also virtue, in virtue knowledge,6in knowledge temperance, in temperance endurance, in endurance godliness,7in godliness brotherly love, in brotherly love love: 8for these things existing and abounding in you make [you] to be neither idle nor unfruitful as regards the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; 9for he with whom these things are not present is blind, short-sighted, and has forgotten the purging of his former sins. -- II Peter 1:5-9 (Darby)
We can take note of the progression of characteristics Peter lists here.  He starts us out with faith as the assumed beginning point of relationship with God.  Without a faith in God, we are nothing, and until that is present there is no outward or inward growth in our spiritual lives.  Beginning with faith the next step in growth is in virtue - or doing right.  Oftentimes, virtuosity takes on a quite legalistic tone... as the Pharisees were prone to do.  Living life only by the letter of the law is a step on the Way, but there is so much more to God's ambition and intent for us!  Beyond living virtuously or by the rules comes knowledge.  We come to know the Lord in a more intimate way that expands our
awareness of how good and expansive God is.  From this knowing the intimate intentions of God for us we can move into a place of more internalized self-restraint (temperance) than by the externalized adherence to virtue earlier in our walk.  Through knowledge and internalized control comes a patience within ourselves to endure many things that we likely would not have thought possible earlier.  Only when we achieve the patience with ourselves and others do we then come to the word godliness.  What a word that is, and it is interesting, even startling, that it comes so late in the list because how many Christians put on airs in the midst of their virtuosity that they are godly people?  Godliness does not just mean virtue though, as this list confirms!  We are not godly because we are good by some external definition, we are good because we've come to know and walk the talk and stand firm in patience aware of our forgiven place within the Kingdom of God.  When we live as forgiven, affirmed and assured of our godly connection with God then we can adopt kindness toward all humanity, which is finally the definition of Love as God so loves us.

God, grant us an ever deepening and growing relationship with you.  Teach us not to be contently stuck in our walk with you, but to have an ambition and heart for seeking you diligently throughout the course of our life here on earth.  In and with Christ we pray.  Amen.

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