Monday, March 2, 2009

N.T. Wright on Resurrection => Holiness

"It isn't the case that Christian ethics consists of a few odd regulations and restrictions that Christians are supposed to follow while still living in exactly the same world as everyone else, just as it isn't the case that the resurrection of Jesus was simply a very strange miracle within the world of old creation. The resurrection was the full bursting in to this world of the life of God's new creation; Christian ethics is the lifestyle that celebrates and embodies that new creation. Living out a life of Christian holiness makes sense, perfect sense within God's new world, the world into which we are brought at baptism, the world where we are nourished by the Eucharist. Of course, if you try to live a Christian lifestyle outside this framework, you will find it as difficult, indeed nonsensical, as it would be for an orchestral perfomer to play his or her part separated from the rest of the players amid the crashes and metallic screeching of an automobile factory."

Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 284-5

Can we think of living a holy life in these terms? It is a celebration of that fact that new creation has begun; it is not a question of mustering up our moral fiber or straining towards a strange blend of nirvana and sainthood. Living a holy life is a celebration and an embodiment of the new creation wrought by the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, it is a privilege to live so. But further, it is actually a way to anticipate the coming day when all will be made right and peace, righteousness, love, beauty, and justice will reign. To live in sin is not only a burden and bondage for the Christian. To live in sin is to fail to believe that everything really has changed. Living lives of isolation due to secret lusts, hatred, envy, self-love is nothing short of tragically ridiculous. We have been given the downpayment that God will fix everything. Why live according to the broken system of this world any longer? Why follow the urgings of the flesh for gratification? Why yield to the temptations offered all around us? These things no longer have any power because Jesus is currently reigning and we can participate in that reign by living lifes of holiness.

Somehow, mysteriously (and at times, infinitely frustratingly) these lives of holiness get worked out through the relationships of our heavenly family where immaturity and misunderstanding are too often the norm. But it is there that we celebrate the sacraments. It is there that we remind ourselves of our future hope. It is there that we worship the reigning God together. And it is there that we learn how to love the unlovely.

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