Monday, November 12, 2012

Defiled or distracted?

Have you seen the hope of a promise?  The "pulling" or "pushing" effect of the promise you hold onto is often the only thing keeping you going, isn't it?  If you have ever really taken any kind of look into scriptures, you will see them filled with promises.  Some make immediate sense to us, causing us to just simply latch onto them quickly, while others take a little "getting used to" in order to have any real kind of impact on us.  By definition, a promise is something which gives hope - it is what we base our expectations on.  If we have been given a promise - we hold out for the fulfillment, don't we?  Now, in terms of God's promises, they actually serve to "pull us on" when we don't have the energy to make another move ourselves!

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.  (2 Corinthians 7:1 MSG)

Paul spent a couple of chapters describing the magnificent work of Christ in the lives of the believers at Corinth - the work which should give us great hope and assurance.  Maybe this hope comes in the declarations, such as:  "He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less." (5:5)  Perhaps it is found in the words:  "The day you needed me, I was there to help." (6:2)  Or maybe:  "I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people." (6:16)  Regardless of which one of these various promises and assurances we hold onto, they have the effect of "pulling us" out of where we are today and moving us toward where we will be for all eternity!

The most amazing part of our passage today is what Paul tells us to DO in response to God's amazing promises.  He instructs us to "make a clean break".  Now, if you have ever thought about what it means to make a clean break, you probably have discovered it describes both timing and intent.  In the realm of timing - it is swift, not delayed or drug out.  In respect to intent, it is complete and thorough - no turning back.  

What impairs our timing or intent?  I think Paul outlines a couple of things in this passage.  There is the stuff which "defiles" or "distracts" us.  He points us to look both within and without.  In other words, there is stuff "in" us which affects our timing and intent, just as much as there is stuff "outside" us which sways us to alter our timing or adjust our intent.  If you have ever said you'd do something like lose weight, you know timing plays an important part in your conviction.  You don't start a diet just prior to the holidays, do you?  Nope!  In fact, you wait until after New Year's has come and gone to start - timing the start of the new till after the "good stuff" has all been eaten!  

Timing is dependent on intent, but each has both internal and external "pulling" factors.  The question Paul sets before us in this passage is whether we will listen to the pulls from without or within.  God's Spirit indwells the believer - therefore, the "pulls" we should be listening to are those which emanate from him.  It is hard to really respond well to his pull unless we get acquainted with him.  It is in this acquaintance where we develop a familiarity with his intent and timing.  

No promise is of value unless we place hope in it.  We can hear all kinds of promises, but if we never latch onto even one of them, we will be "hopeless", won't we?  Now, not all promises are trustworthy - especially if they are made by humans!  Yet, God has NEVER gone back on one of his promises!  Latching onto anything which promises something other than what God promises leaves us at risk of being defiled and disappointed.  Distractions disappoint, don't they?  If you have ever been driving along, distracted by the song on the radio, or the thoughts in your brain, and missed the turn-off you were supposed to take, you know the "cost" of a distraction.  It impacts your timing and your intent, doesn't it?  You intended to be at your destination at a certain time and you just blew it!

We are equally pulled - within and without - by things, people, and activities which promise fulfillment.  We need to become so acquainted with God's promises so as to immediately spot those things which pull us and which will do nothing more than defile or distract!  Just sayin!