Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Holiness of Life and the Minister

Holiness of life is absolutely necessary if you expect to grow into a mature faith, a faith which will produce fruits such that even those ensnared in the many traps of our current immoral culture will take notice. Aquinas wrote that the goal of the minister of the Lord should be "to contemplate divine things and to give to others the fruit of our contemplation." 

"Just as it is a greater thing to illuminate others than merely to shine, so it is a greater thing to communicate one's contemplation to others than merely to contemplate. [And this form of life] most resembles the perfection of bishops who are the successors of the Apostles."

It is obvious then, that holiness of life, of which contemplation is the core, is of utmost importance; certainly more than how many degrees you have on the wall and how many conferences you speak before. Far too often those who would be ministers chase after degrees, positions, fame, etc., all of which are the shared desires of the sinner. It is as if the words, Hallowed be thy name, have been forgotten. Our first prayer should be that He be glorified, not us. After all, we're judged not on how theologically precise we are, or how easily we beat the Atheist in debate, but on the basis of how our love for God is demonstrated in decreasing selfish motivation, and increasing our cooperation with the Divine Will.

Personal prayer and contemplation (listening to God) is a component of holy living, and should be a daily habit, as there is a need for such intimate meditation, without which it is impossible to function in a healthy spiritual manner. When our personal prayer life is absent, liturgical prayer, such as that found in the Didache for the Agape (Lord's Supper) and writings of the Church Fathers, often degenerates into mere religious obligation, with little heartfelt intention behind it. 

Frequent self examination is also necessary. Some are required to do this in seminary or bible college, but then after graduating, the practice falls by the wayside. An examination of one's attitudes, actions, and thoughts should be guided by the Holy Spirit, and with an eye to ever greater conformity to the example of Jesus. 

Since we claim to believe in the supernatural worldview, our lives should constantly move away from Naturalism, Materialism, and Self Indulgence, toward Supernaturalism, Spiritual Awareness, and a desire to love within the will of God. In other words, live supernaturally.

If these basic principles of holiness are absent from the lives of ministers, their faith will be doomed to remain on the superficial platform, their ministry a mere career choice, and they'll never experience the transformative nature of the Gospel. It isn't enough that we be great Systematic Theologians, or impressive Apologists, nor even great preachers. 

Even if we have achieved all these things, if holiness of life isn't our conviction, we're destined to produce little fruit. 

Holiness of life is essentially a ministry to ourselves. It is the sinful inclination to self centeredness, turned on its head through a life of faith, hope, submissive service, and fervent prayer.

When we are diligent in pursuing holiness of life, our faith is naturally strengthened and grows deeper roots. This sort of faith is a living faith, its roots push deeper down every day, because its intensity is increased with our ever growing submission to God's heart, and it is met with gifts from God, such as wisdom, peacefulness, and a constant awareness of His Presence. The natural result is evangelical effectiveness, as the fruits of the Spirit move through you to reach the heart of even the most hardened sinner.

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