Powered for a Holy & Faithful Life

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve pondered why life has to be so challenging. Living itself is difficult but the life of faith adds another layer of difficulty. Many Christians did not anticipate a hard or harder life when they came to Christ. As a matter of fact, many of us initially found the life of faith to be somewhat easier, which motivated us to persevere beyond our initial conversion experience. We were surprised to learn that living for Jesus requires a great deal of work. The Christian life is an active pursuit of holiness through the regular practice of spiritual disciplines, continually battling sinful desires and engaging in transparent community with fellow believers. It is anything but passive or easy. One theologian aptly stated, “Salvation is solely God’s work, while sanctification requires both God and man (or woman.)” Christian living is a collaborative effort between God and His redeemed people. This isn’t a secret since every Christian experiences this daily.

So what do we make of the beginning of this week’s collect: "Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves…” If this is true, then there shouldn’t be an expectation of work on our part. A Christian’s life should be a simple and passive existence where we do nothing but wait for God to move us as puppets. Some Scripture passages seem to support this view, like Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” and Jude 24-25, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” However other passages urge action, like Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” and James 2:17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” The balance is found in realizing that without God, we can not do what He desires. Through the death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus, Christians have eternal life and are filled with the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to live holy and faithful lives— a power that we do not have a part from Him. Today, let’s lean on this help to defend and help us as we pursue a life of holiness and faithfulness to our God.

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