“BRINGING HOLINESS TO COMPLETION”
Following Christ is a journey – what a wonderful journey it should be! In today’s 3 chapters in 2nd Corinthians we see how Paul opens out more and more to them the wonder and challenges of this journey. We are reminded of Solomon’s ‘vision’ that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until …” [Prov. 4 v.18]! Yes, until the “full day” comes, when faith is turned to sight. Is the path you are treading, shining brighter and brighter? Are you “bringing holiness to completion”?
The increasing spiritual darkness around us – should make the brightness of our path more evident! But sadly, ‘official’ Christianity is showing ever more clearly that God “has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn …” [John 12 v.40]. The ‘evidence’ was there for them to ‘see’ in the days of Jesus but their minds refused to accept what their eyes saw! They were unable to “turn.” And today! The contrast between “light” and “darkness” has grown really great; those in darkness have convinced themselves there never was a Creator.
We are challenged to clearly understand what Paul means! He says, “while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” [5 v.4] The more we are “further clothed” in our minds, the pathway before us will become increasingly clear and bright.
“We are always of good courage”, says Paul, “and we would rather be away from the body and present with the Lord” [v.8] Those who believe their “soul” is immortal usually misunderstand Paul’s meaning. Mortality will be “swallowed up” when Christ returns as Paul explained in detail in 1 Cor. Ch. 15 also when he stated his expectation of what is “laid up for me” in 2 Tim 4 v.7,8.
We will be physically “at home with the Lord” when he returns. Paul challenges them (and us) to be more and more spiritually “at home” with him now so that when we “appear before the judgement seat of Christ (when) … each one … receive(s) what is due for what he has done in the body …” [v.10] This means what he has done in “the body” of Christ - as Paul made clear in Ephesians 1 v.22,23.
Chapter 6 in today’s readings ends by making the Corinthians aware of God’s promises of the life to come in his kingdom as recorded in the Old Testament (he quotes from Lev. 26 v.12 and Isaiah 52 v.11). Ch. 7 starts, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement … bringing holiness to completion in the fear (awe) of God”. He tells them to “widen your hearts” [6 v.13] How “wide” is your heart?. Our readings are the essential ‘food’ for our hearts; God’s scriptures are a foundation ingredient if our hearts are to really become wide and so see “the path” really clearly so that we anticipate the “full day” with the greatest eagerness.