Friday, June 5, 2009

A "Spiritually Hygienic" Person (Authentic Holiness)

"...A spiritually hygienic person is one who combines strengths and flexibilities, disciplines and freedoms, all working together from a renewable source of vitality. This is a person who flourishes like a fine sapling rooted into the bank of a dependable stream.

"What are some features of this flourishing? As Christians see her, a spiritually whole person longs in certain classic ways. She longs for God and the beauty of God, for Christ and Christlikeness, for the dynamite of the Holy Spirit and spiritual maturity. She longs for spiritual hygiene [i.e., true holiness] itself -- and not just as a consolation prize when she cannot be rich and envied instead. She longs for other human beings: she wants to love them and to be loved by them. She hungers for social justice. She longs for nature, for its beauties and graces, for the sheer particularity of the way of a squirrel with a nut. As might expect, her longings dim from season to season. When they do, she longs to long again.

"She is a person character consistency, a person who rings true wherever you tap her. She keeps promises. She weeps with those who weep and, perhaps more impressively, rejoices with those who rejoice.....

"Her motives include faith -- a quiet confidence in God and the mercies of God that radiate from the self-giving work of Jesus Christ. She knows God is good; she also feels assured that God is good to her.

"Her faith secures her from the ceaseless oscillations of pride and despair familiar to every human being who has taken refuge in the cave of her own being and tried there to bury all her insecurities under a mound of achievements. When her faith slips, she retains faith enough to believe that the Spirit of God, whose presence is her renewable resource, will one day secure her faith again.

"Since faith fastens on God's benevolence, it yields gratitude, which in turn sponsors risk-taking in the service of others. Grateful people want to let themselves go; faithful people dare to do it. People tethered to God by faith can let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back...."

-- Cornelius Plantinga, "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be" (p.34-35, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1995)

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