Friday, January 14, 2011

Experiencing Glorification This Side of Eternity

If the title alarms you in any way, well you should be alarmed with a title like that. However, let me make my case.

In the Christian experience you normally hear of justification (forgiveness) and sanctification (cleansing). Both involve ridding one either of the guilt of sin which is a psychological state that needs to be avoided or of ridding one of the lingering presence of sin after the Christian has accepted Christ Jesus as his/her savior. You rarely hear anyone speak of glorification. Normally, the New Testament speaks of glorification (being transformed into the same character and nature that Christ acquired at the resurrection) as something that happens either when one is resurrected at the Second Coming or as one is "caught up together in the air" along with the resurrected saints "to meet our Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord." That perfection--finally--of the Christian believer is a future historical moment eagerly to be anticipated.

However, let us not forget Christ's words which  tell us "And this is eternal life: that they may know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ [and the Spirit of Christ] whom thou has sent." John the Apostle. Eternal life (knowing God) can begin in this life. Therefore it follows that to some degree--and an exciting degree at that--glorification can and does begin progressively in this flesh-and-blood reality.

Every aspect of the Christian life that I've mentioned, i.e., justification, sanctification and glorification, are through the divine gift of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. It is He that initiates and nourishes each of these states of Christan experience and blessedness.

There are many promises given us regarding the free reception of the Spirit of Christ. Only two will be given here though you can find others even in the Old Testament, e.g., Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

The first is my favorite because of its simplicity and accessibility: Luke 11:13, "If you then who are earthly know how to give good things to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him."

The other is Ephesians 5, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be not drunk with wine which is excess." This is an excellent promise as well though it hints at some effort on the believers part, especially of avoiding intemperance which would cloud the spiritual sensibilities to the point that receiving the Spirit of Christ would be quite difficult.

One essential caveat that affects both  promises is Paul the Apostle's reminder that the new Christian believer receives the Holy Spirit by "hearing with faith" and not by works of the Law (both ceremonial or moral) through which no man will be saved.

May you enjoy each of the spiritual states of bliss ushered in by justification (forgiveness of past sins), sanctification (being purified from your natural sinful state) and glorification (knowing the only true God.)

Most importantly may you receive the baptism of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Evolving Male Christian in a Postmodern Culture

Forty years ago few men felt comfortable pushing a stroller unless a female was present. That's no longer true.

Forty years ago young Christian adult males would feel uncomfortable embracing and briefly giving a brotherly kiss on the cheek to another recently baptized non-related fellow Christian male, also in his early 20s. That is no longer the case.

One witnesses both formerly frowned-upon behaviors even in macho Latino conservative churches like ones I attend. Is this male bonding overdone?

What of the new freedom heterosexual men now have, especially after a great favor or unique social incident has occurred, to very confidently say in public, "I love you, Man. You're like a brother to me."

Is this progress or is something going on that needs further study? Are both cases Bible-based or condoned? Yes, they are. "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Paul of Tarsus in Ephesians 5) What better way for a Christian man to show love for his wife as his own body than to share parenting and stroller time duties with the woman who is his partner in the gestation of their child?

Additionally, Paul of Tarsus counsels Christians to "greet each other with a holy kiss." (Paul of Tarsus in Romans 16). Note emphasis on "holy." It can be safely assumed that "each other" refers to same-gender "holy kissing" as well as inter-gender "holy kissing."

Will these behaviors continue during the next 40 years or will the past be a blueprint which will be rabidly emulated?