Monday, May 11, 2009

The two lenses of the Christian life

When Paul sums up the way Christian 'ought to live and to please God' (1 Thes 4:1) he uses only two primary concepts:

"and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his saints."
- 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Love and holiness are so often played off against each other. You get 'love Christians' who know that all you have to do is love and accept and help people and that is Christianity in a nutshell. And you get 'holiness Christians' who are terrified they might accidentally associate with the wrong type of person, or with someone who holds the wrong doctrine, or even watch a movie that is not quite pure. Living in each extreme is pretty easy. Doing things a much harder way are those poor souls trying to be 'balanced Christians' who recognise the law of love but also the importance of holiness and try to find a mediating position between the two masters as if God is some two headed monster with conflicting personalities to be satisfied! But watching the way Jesus, or Paul went about their business it is clear that the love/holiness thing should not be understood as a tension - or a choice of which side of Christianity should be face up this time; like tossing a coin to see if we demonstrate love or holiness in our next action. Instead holiness is only Christian holiness when it is transformed by love, and love is only Christian love when it is transformed by holiness. Holiness without love is mere religion, and love without holiness is idolatry. They are not two sides of a coin, but two lenses in a telescope that both need to be brought into focus for every activity and together provide a view of the Christian life, of each other, and of all, that neither can alone.

Let me know what you think :-)
(BTW this is my 100th post on this blog!! Thanks for stopping by :-))

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this.

    Life is always about balance, but there are some theologies which seem to think that these things are either/or rather than both/and.

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