A few mornings ago, as I was walking to, for some reason I started to contemplate "purity".
I usually contemplate more immediate issues like:
- what will I make for supper?
- are hard wood floors easier to clean than carpets?
- do I have enough in the checking account to pay all the bills?
So this line of contemplation was very different.
My church, like so many others in the USA is dealing with a variety of difficult issues. However, when one comes up against an interpretation of the bible or of tradition or of experience that is at odds with the prevailing understanding, there are fissures and fractures that take place. The splits are often out of a desire to continue on a more "pure" understanding the scripture and principles of faith. And there is usually an event or a decision that serves as the tipping point (see "Gulf States Conference to vote on withdrawal"). A desire to become, or to remain, untainted. A desire to be pure. And this is happening everywhere. Perhaps it always has.
So as I walked, I found myself asking more questions.
- What if "purity" has more to do with loyalty and steadfastness to God rather than achieving moral perfection?
- Is being a steadfast follower of God more pure than is attempting a wide variety of moral actions?
- Can purity be God's outcome in our lives by our proximity to God's glory and having received God's grace?
- If purity is an outcome of a process with God, when, if ever, will we see the ultimate conclusion to this refining process? And even then, could we judge it correctly?
- With our need to judge and discern rightly, shouldn't the main issue be to judge the degree to which we are leaning into God?
- If purity is about God's grace in our lives, might we already be pure, even if our actions don't always measure up?
- If any of the above "ifs" are answered in the affirmative, even only partially, how can we break fellowship with our brothers and sisters on account of their lack of purity? How can denominations split and congregations divide?
- If my fellow Christian is seeking Jesus and practicing trust in Christ's abiding love, pursuing intimacy with God and discerning God's will daily, then how can I separate myself from that person for their lack of purity?
If I need to break away from the impure (those lacking moral achievements), I need then to break from myself, for not even I am satisfied with my own moral decisions and actions.
Lord, let my purity be, let our purity be that which you are creating in us as we seek you.