Our youth group is currently in the midst of our annual “purity series”.
Our youth group sees fit to devote several weeks every February to the subject of purity with its many angles, and I can’t disagree with their choice. Given the escalating danger that sexual promiscuity poses to our young people in today’s bankrupt society, an emphatic approach seems right.
Last night’s message featured possibly the best possible angle on purity, the best reason to pursue purity.
It came, rather unexpectedly (for me), out of 1 Peter 1 – a passage that gives holiness the backdrop of a cosmic secret, withheld even from the angels.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.
Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:10-15, HCSB)
We really don’t get the bated breath with which all of heaven waited for God’s salvation. Think of the average Lost spoiler to the hundredth power.
We don’t typically get stoked enough about our salvation. Peter says that our faith is “more valuable than gold” (v. 4). I must confess that I’m certainly not nearly that impressed with faith. I just don’t attach that value to it.
Yet all of this had the angels absolutely captivated.
And it’s not over yet. Peter is looking forward to the fulfillment of our salvation – justification, sanctification, then glorification. Sometimes I think that the constant use of familiar religious words (“grace”, “glory”, “revelation”) glazes the idea over, makes it old hat to us.
Peter is confident that it will be better than any of us can imagine.
Last night in small group, our seniors remarked on the difficulty of comprehending heaven. We have no experience and no point of reference (Scripture having given us only a glimpse). The roles are reversed here – we long to look into those things, and the angels know all about it. Our society’s cliche-ification of heaven (bored cherubs sitting around with harps, an image unsupported by Scripture) is doubtless another part of the problem. Even the word “heaven” is rife with our own biases.
Yet the Spirit was there for us last night. Instead of spending the allotted time discussing sexual purity, our conversation moved upward. We talked of the next life. How awesome it will be. The half hour flew by before we realized it. How the greatest joys this life can muster up (conversation, nature, discovery, healing, laughter, marriage, and yes, sex) are only practice, mere shadows of what we will experience in God’s presence. And their perversions (worldly sex, worship of nature, crude laughter)? Counterfeits. Fakes.
The things of earth truly did grow strangely dim for us as we talked. Holiness no longer seemed a burden.
Good thing, too, for Peter admonishes us to set our hope completely on that grace. The NIV has the adjective modifying a different word in the passage, but Holman has it pointed towards “hope”. King James says “hope to the end”.
That’s stark. Set our hope completely there. Not on anything in this life. Not earthly goals. Not career. Not safety and comfort. Not family. (If you read my title and were expecting yet another treatise on “waiting for the right person and getting rewarded with mind-blowing sex”, well, nope.) Completely on that glory.
And then, in light of that…well, light, it says that we’re no longer ignorant (v. 14), so we must no longer live that way. We’ve seen too much. Having been given a glimpse of such an awe-inspiring vision as our sanctification (really? Am I so bankrupt myself that I don’t give it that value? May I be changed), we’re to live obediently, seriously, and, yes, joyfully (v.8).
For the undimmed presence of God deserves that from us.
He, and everything else he sees fit to grant us in heaven, will be thrilling and satisfying. No cosmic letdown like Lost. There won’t be an ounce of disappointment when we finally arrive in his presence.
All stains removed.
All tears wiped away.
All things made new.
Let’s live like it.