Sunday, July 31, 2016

"You Can't Take it With You" and "Biblical Separation"

This Sunday's Epistle and Gospel reading both focus on separating ourselves from earthly desires. 

In Colossians 3:1-11, Paul urges the early Christians to put those things to death and to keep their eyes on the prize,

"So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. Where there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!"

Jesus in Luke 12:13-21 warns us against all kinds of greed, and he tells a parable that instructs us that we can't take it with us,

"Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?" Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.'"

The problem of living the life that St. Paul and Jesus appear to desire for us is that for most of us it is an impossible task. Living without accumulating possessions, and unrighteous passions is hard enough for those called to the monastic life, but for those of us who are called to work in the world, it is so hard that most of us don't have a chance, but we do have a prayer thanks to a God who forgives the sins of the repentant (one of the reasons that the Prayer of Humble Access should be included in your Eucharistic service).

Even though most of us will never be able to completely rid ourselves of selfish desires and possessions, if we can admit that we suffer under the weight of those things, and recognize the strong desire of the Saints and our Lord that we put those things behind us, then maybe we can shed some of them and feel the liberating effect of what is called "Biblical Separation."

The following was posted at "Proclaim and Defend" a couple of weeks ago by Stephen J. Hankins
"Biblical Separation: A Fundamental Doctrine Mandated by the Nature of God and the Nature of Gospel" 
"True disciples of the Master believe that the nature of God and the nature of the gospel set them apart to a life of dedicated uniqueness for His glory, a life of holiness achieved only by a biblically mandated separatism. 
The thirst for holiness drives us to a decisive separation for His glory in four ways. 
(1) Since He who commands believers is holy, our love for Him should compel our obedience to Him, causing us to separate from all sin, as taught in 1 John 3:4 and 5:3. 
(2) Since He who speaks the truth is holy, our love for Him should compel us to embrace that truth, causing us to separate from all falsehood, as taught in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1. 
(3) Since He who is eternal is holy, our love for Him should compel us to reject the temporal world, causing us to separate from its wrong values and behaviors, as taught in 1 John 2:15–17. 
(4) Since He who is the Head of the Church is holy, our love for Him as His body should compel us to corporate purity, causing us to separate from all that threatens the spiritual health of the church, as taught in Ephesians 5:25–27, 1 Corinthians 5:1–11, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15. 
This fourfold biblical separation is implicit in a God centered life; you cannot have the one without the other. The doctrine of biblical separation is inherently God centered and without question a fundamental of the faith. For the serious disciple, it can never be viewed as peripheral to faithfulness to Christ."

So, for those of you who still believe that "He who dies with the most toys wins" (Malcolm Forbes), put away the toys and grow up!

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