It’s just a phrase, tucked away in the depths of II Corinthians, but it’s a phrase ripe with meaning. It’s a phrase which, along with a passage from Jeremiah, God has used over and over again to cut through the fog of confusion, duplicity, and frustration, leading me out into the open spaces where it’s easier to breathe.
Here’s what the phrase means to me, and how I’m trying to apply it in my life and calling:
1. I’m called to simple devotion, therefore I need to make the habits which nurture intimacy a priority. They’re more important than my job, and way more important than my vote. This intimacy is life spring from which Wisdom flows, and I’d be wise to find ways to live consciously in the presence of Jesus so that the character of Jesus can be seen in me.
2. I’m called to pure devotion, and this hearkens back to the reality that I can’t serve the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God at the same time. Jesus said that, and I need to wrestle with what that means; such wrestling, far from being a waste of time, is central to my movement into a place of liberty and rest.
3. My devotion to Christ will lead to doing actual things. I changed my major because of devotion to Christ. I live in the city because of devotion to Christ. I spend my money certain ways because of devotion to Christ. I think “devotion to Christ” means that I should expect that fellowship with Jesus will result, from time to time, in Jesus challenging my lifestyle and challenging what it means to live faithfully.
4. “Simplicity and purity” sounds so…simple and pure. I’m trying to understand what it means for people working two jobs, or community far distances so that they’ve very little time for fellowship with others, and habits of health. I’m also trying to understand how these two words fit into the complex conversations of what it means to live faithfully in our time, and its why I sometimes plead for conversations about consumerism or sexual ethics. Still, I must believe that in the end, kingdoms will rise and fall, but the ones who will shine as light will be those whose hope was never in the kingdoms (or parties) of this world. Instead, it appears the that ones still standing will be those who’ve learned to continually draw upon the resources of Christ and allow the fruit of his life to be expressed through their daily living–in the midst of commutes, repairs, health problems, and news reports. The Psalmist paints a picture of one who is “rooted.” It’s beautiful, life sustaining, and a perfect vision to help me prioritize my life.
We’re human; we’re sheep; we’re sometimes confused. We won’t all agree on everything. But can at least agree on this: “The simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” is the starting place for all that will be healing in our own lives, and life giving to others. May we start there, together.
Thank you God, for the life giving streams that flow through the resurrected Jesus into our lives, flooding us with living water, and turning us into people of hope, rivers of life. Forgive us for the many times we seek to quench our thirst elsewhere. Because you’ve promised that we’ll find, in You, all that we need to walk faithfully as people of hope in the midst of the challenges, beauty, opportunities, and losses that characterize our broken world, I pray you’ll teach us to be rooted in your life.
And thank you for all that awaits us, as we follow… in your great name we pray. Amen.