Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiness is found in how we treat others

In his book The God Who Weeps Givens discusses the role of human relationships in our existence – how critical they are to the experience of life here on earth as well as the experience of life to come. They are “both the laboratory in which we labor to perfect ourselves and the source of that enjoyment that will constitute our true heaven” (Kindle edition Loc 1815).

I've posted before about the grace inherent in the loving relationships (schools of love) of this life, of how we are put in families and commanded to be married in order to give us the experiences we need to be enabled to reach upwards towards Godliness and given tutorials on all that entails. Givens explains how this grace takes form beautifully when he states that “what we call the virtues are precisely those attributes of character that best suit us to live harmoniously, even joyfully, in society. Kindness only exists when there is someone to whom we show kindness. Patience is only manifest when another calls it forth. So it is with mercy, generosity and self-control. What we may have thought was our private pathway to salvation, was intended all along as a collaborative enterprise, though we often miss the point” (Kindle edition Loc 1824). We've always known God meant for us to learn to be like him, but it more than our individual experiences or efforts could ever had accomplished.

Which fits in well with what Eugene England about the purpose of the Church in our lives, to provide us with relationships we might not have otherwise had – and the lessons inherent in them: “Church involvement teaches us compassion and patience as well as courage and discipline. It makes us responsible for the personal and marital, physical, and spiritual welfare of people we may not already love (or may even heartily dislike), and thus we learn to love them. It stretches and challenges us, though disappointed and exasperated, in ways we would not otherwise choose to be— and thus gives us a chance to be made better than we might choose to be, but ultimately need and want to be. ...its assaults on our lonely egos, and the bonds and re­sponsibilities that we willingly accept, can push us toward new-kinds of being in a way we most deeply want and need to be pushed." (England ).

I learn kindness by having people in my life to be kind to – people to whom I want to be kind to out of love for them, as well as those to whom being kind comes as a challenge for me, and thus kindness becomes a part of who I am because I (hopefully) continually choose it over other less Godly ways of interacting with everyoneI come in contact with.

Holiness is found in how we treat others, not in how we contemplate the cosmos (T. Givens Kindle Edition Loc 1832).
Givens goes on to explain the beauty and interconnectedness of this way of understanding God's plan of salvation for his children, that “the project of perfection, or purification and sanctification, is in this light not a scheme for personal advancement, but a process of better filling – and rejoicing in – our roll in what Paul called the body of Christ, and what others have referred to as the New Jerusalem, the General Assembly, and Church of the Firstborn, or, as in the prophecy of Enoch, Zion” (Kindle Edition Loc 1832). The plan is intended to save each individual – BUT NOT INDIVIDUALLY!

Salvation is rooted in others – in relationships – in LOVE – and “the two constants” of life here and hereafter, “what we have learned and how we have loved” go hand in hand precisely because so often what we have learned comes through how we have loved (T. Givens Loc 1902). And this is because “the divine nature of man, and the diving nature of God, are shown to be the same – they are rooted in the will to love, at the price of pain, but in the certainty of joy. Heaven holds out the promise of a belonging that is destines to extend and surpass any that we have ever known in this wounded world” (Loc 1902).

Our experience with relationships here, and of loving will be the basis of the loving that defines Heaven. “However rapturous or imperfect, fulsome or shattered, our knowledge of love has been, we sense it is the very basis and purpose of our existence. It is a belonging that we crave because it is one we have always known” (Kindle edition Loc 1770)

I hope that in every type of shade of relationship throughout my life I will be able to more fully adopt that form of heaven – of loving and learning through that love.

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