Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Language of Sanctity

OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO Thomas Merton wrote a description of America which could have been written today. In the words of Merton, describing the beliefs of his friend, Lax, we read,
Lax's picture of America -- before which he has stood for twelve years with his hands hanging in helplessness at his side -- is the picture of a country full of people who want to be kind and pleasant and happy and love good things and serve God, but who do not know how. And they do not know where to turn to find out. They are surrounded by all kinds of sources of information which only conspire to bewilder them more and more. And Lax's vision is a vision of the day when they will turn on the radio and somebody will start telling them of the love of God in language that will no longer sound hackneyed or crazy, but with authority and conviction: the conviction born of sanctity. (The Seven Storey Mountain)
Today, America is still looking for someone to tell them of God in a language that cuts through the facade and speaks to the heart. I believe that this language must be the language of holiness. Though, when I speak of a language of holiness, I am not referring to some rarefied tongue which utters words which demand a theological dictionary to understand. I am referring to a holiness that is born in the heart surrendered to God's ownership and lived out through the hands moved by the His Spirit.

This is a language that speaks through acts of compassion and mercy. It is a life that lives out the life of Christ in the world. It is not only a life that speaks the truth of God, but also lives out the truth of God. It is a holiness that is lived on the streets.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah concerning this type of life:
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness£ will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:6-12)
I believe when we learn to speak and live this language then our light will shine, more importantly Christ's light will shine in and through us and this bring light to the world. (Matthew 5:14-16) Then the world hear, and believe.

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