I Peter 2.1-12 (CEV)
1Stop being hateful! Quit trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don't be jealous or say cruel things about others. 2Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. 3You have already found out how good the Lord really is.
4Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6It is just as God says in the Scriptures,
"Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
No one who has faith
in that one
will be disappointed."
7You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn't precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed.
9But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,
10"Once you were nobody.
Now you are God's people.
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
11Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you. 12Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. Then on the day of judgment, they will honor God by telling the good things they saw you do.
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In the first of this series, we asked the initial question arising from the I Peter text: "Who are we?" Then, we asked a second question, "If that is who we are, what is our function?" I addressed the first and, then, second and third of five actions. I, again, give the functions in the I Peter passage, quoting from the Scriptures:
1) Come to Jesus Christ.
2) And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house.
3) You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices
that please God.
4) Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done.
5) Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong.
The Peter writer has reminded us that we are a people, "living stones," the Spirit is using to construct a spiritual temple. A temple needs priests. We are, hence, a temple in process and a holy priesthood. Again, identity precedes function.
One of the offerings we holy priests offer is a witness to Christ. We do this to outsiders and to insiders; that is, the true Christian witnesses of his or her faith to others in the Body of Christ. By this, we encourage each other.
Second, we give witness to those outside the Body of Christ. We do not seek to make a conversion or to convert anyone to the Christian faith. Rather, we tell, essentially, of what God has done, especially what the Spirit has done for us. The most powerful witness of word is sharing what Christ has and is doing in your life.
Each one of us is called to witness to the Action of God. Yet, we witness in different ways. The Spirit has gifted us each in a different way. The Blessed Spirit works through our distinct personalities.
Still ~ this is vital to recall ~ the Gracious Spirit is not subject to the limitations of personalities and we are not to use our personality to block what Christ is calling us to do, or better, for Him to do through us ~ this applies to persons and groups. You might think that your personality does not fit what God is calling you to be or do. But you are to stay open to how God, if God chooses, can do beyond your personality. I will address this more in depth.
First, what is of priority spiritually? In the laws of the Spirit ~ which, we may forget, often conflict with our "laws"? God or your personality? Of course, God. Do you agree? But if I say, "We'll I cannot do this," what am I saying? I may be saying, "I cannot do this, for it is not the Divine will for me to do it." I could be saying, however, "I cannot do this, for I ~ my personality ~ cannot do this." If the latter, then, I am reversing the priority between God and the personality; I am subjecting the potential of eternal Grace to limits of passing personality.
Also ~ and this is where the contemplative dimension intersects with this matter ~ our personality is not our essence. We are not personality be-ings. We are spiritual be-ings. When I regularly enter the spirit-within, I am in communion with the Spirit at the Center of my be-ing. Here, really, there is no my be-ing. Rather, be-ing is in God, in Be-ing, and, thus, what I call "my spirit" is really simply spirit at one with everything; for in God all subsists, for God is One in the Divine Simplicity.
So, the potential of God is not limited by the outer sheath of personality. Rather, in spirit, the center of all making this man "Brian", the potential of the Divine is alive. This potency can transcend, by Divine Agency, limits of the other aspects of my self. God is not limited by what you can designate religion (soul), mind (intelligence), body (physical), or matter (total environment of matter-space that you share in as creature).
The emotional aspect is within the above aspects ~ Spirit to matter, or matter to Spirit. As you grow to loving union in Spirit, in your spirit, emotion is transformed, or Christened by the Inmost Christ Presence. So, as with other aspects, the Spirit of God not only transforms but can choose to transcend affective limitations.
Within all this potential, we must remember, however, that the Divine Presence most often works within the traits, and their natural limitations, that make us the distinct be-ing we are. This is true of all Nature. Birds do not swim in the deep blue. We do not drive airplanes down the interstate to our job. We do not wear shirts on our feet, we wear shoes on our feet.
So, now back to witness. Truly, our entire life is a witness, a Word speaking of what God is doing in our lives. This is the most powerful witness ~ our entire life speaking Grace.
Yet, this does not excuse the literal word of witness. We are to speak our witness as opportunity arises. We do not have to force this, and we do not have to use tracts. We can remain open prayerfully each day ~ even pray for ~ opportunity that the Holy Spirit might present for us to share the living Christ.
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*Brian K. Wilcox lives with his wife, Rocio, their two dogs, St. Francis and Bandit Ty, and their fish, Hope, in Florida. Brian is vowed at Greenbough House of Prayer, a contemplative Christian community in Georgia. He lives a contemplative life and inspires others to experience a deeper relationship with Christ. He advocates for a spiritually-focused Christianity and the renewal of the focus of the Church on addressing the deeper spiritual needs and longings of persons and empathic relating with diverse spiritual traditions, East and West.
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