Paul has one more use of "temple" in his letters to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 6:15b-16, "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"
In Paul's day there were temples to false gods, dead gods, which he contrasts with the temple of the living God. The living God lives in a living temple, not in a building filled with statues of false gods, whether Roman or Greek. The living God chooses living temples, and that is who we are. Not only did God live with us and walk among us, he continues to do so in believers today.
Further we should be separate from those who worship false gods (vs 17) and purify ourselves from anything that contaminates either body or spirit (vs 18). Paul said this because he knew how difficult it was to live surrounded by non-believers. It is easy to be contaminated by unbelief, by worldly ideas, by false gods, unless we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit
For Reflection: Am I entangled with false gods or unbelievers in ways that I shouldn't be? Have I been contaminated?
Let us pray. Jesus, let me in to your decontamination unit. I want to be wholly yours.
Jesus is in the house! As we saw in yesterday's post, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus' standing up and reading from Isaiah in the synagogue is the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. He then goes out to start fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy, as he said he would do. He teaches with authority (Luke 4:31-32, 36); he frees a man possessed by a demon (4:33-35); he heals many people (4:38-41); he preaches the good news to all who would listen (4:42-44).
Jesus does not ask us to do anything for which he did not give us an example. And just as he did not do things in his own strength, he does not want us to do things on our own strength. He had the authority of the Father and the power of the Spirit to preach, to free, to heal. He prayed before he began his ministry, he prayed all during his ministry, he continues to intercede for us before the Father (Romans 8:34).
For Reflection: If Jesus needed to pray, how much more so do I need to pray?
Let us pray. Jesus, you set the example. You laid out the mission. You showed us how to accomplish it - through our prayer, with the authority of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit and your own intercession. It is in partnership with you that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). You are the source, the holy one.
Jesus proclaimed his marching orders when he stood up in the temple of Nazareth and read from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).
These are the orders given to him by the Father and enabled by the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew why he was sent. He had a mission, a purpose. He also had help. He had his Father's authority behind him and Holy Spirit with him always. He embodied the Trinity. He was never alone in living out and accomplishing his mission.
For Reflection: If Jesus needed the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing, how can we expect to get by without them?
Let us pray. Jesus, I see the mission you had and I want to follow your example. I too need the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing. I want to embody the Trinity to the extent that I can because there are still people who have not heard the good news, who have not been set free, who have not been healed, who do not know of your favor. I need your help to walk in your footsteps and continue your mission of bringing the kingdom of God on earth.
Some time back we looked at the beginning of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 1 he tells us that the Father raised Jesus from the dead to sit at his right hand in heaven. In chapter 2 we learn that we were raised with him by being baptized into his death and resurrected with him so that we too sit in the heavens with Jesus and the Father. So we must learn to sit with him, learn who we are, and see things from his perspective before we begin to do anything else.
In chapter 4 Paul tells us we must learn how to walk on this earth in a way that is worthy of our calling and gives evidence of who we are. We must walk as people who are humble, gentle and patient. We must walk in unity with one another, at peace because we are one in the spirit and one in the body of Christ. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all.
For reflection: Does my daily walk reflect who I am in Christ?
Let us pray. Jesus, your walk was not easy even though you, above all people, knew who you were. I am not as confident in who I am, and not as confident in my walk. Please light my path more brightly.
We last reflected on Paul's words of praise about Jesus in Colossians 1:12-20. John has a similar reflection at the beginning of his Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)
Let's intersperse the two passages:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He is the image of the invisible God.
He was with God in the beginning. He is the firstborn over all creation. Through him all things were made, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. He is the firstborn from among the dead. God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.
For reflection: What does it mean that Jesus is God made visible? Adam and Eve had spoken to God face-to-face, as had Moses. But now all could see Jesus, image of the invisible God. The fullness of God was in him.
Let us pray. Invisible made visible, show yourself to me today. Let me see your face.
Let's look at another prophet who didn't exactly make an excuse to God, but who recognized his deficiency before he answered a call from God. Isaiah has a vivid vision in which he sees the throne room of God Almighty with angels worshipping in full voice. The room shook and was filled with smoke. The magnificence of the vision terrorizes Isaiah, who cries out, "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" (Isaiah 6:1-5).
One of the angels flies to Isaiah and touches a live coal to his lips as an act of atonement for his sin and remission of his guilt. Being cleansed, he is no longer a man of unclean lips. So when God asks, "Whom shall I send?" Isaiah is able to answer, "Send me" (Isaiah 6:6-8).
Does Isaiah even know what he is volunteering for? Perhaps not. But by cleansing him God has equipped him to speak to a nation where justice is perverted, the poor are oppressed, idols are worshipped and the government looks to pagan nations for help rather than to God. But we see that just as God gave words to Moses and Jeremiah, God supplied words of prophecy to Isaiah. God does not call anyone without equipping them to do the job.
For reflection: To what mission has God called me? How has God equipped me for that mission?
Le us pray. Lord, we bow before your holiness and acknowledge that we too are a people of unclean lips. We see justice perverted and don't speak up. We see the poor oppressed and expect someone else to do something. We see our nation turn for help to anyone but you. Cleanse us of our sin, equip us with your words, and help us to proclaim your righteousness in the land. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We can learn about how God works by looking at how he calls people to help him. Earlier we went through the numerous objections that Moses gave God for not going to speak to Pharaoh. Today let's look at the call of Jeremiah. God begins by telling Jeremiah that he knew him before he was born and that he determined even then to appoint Jeremiah as a prophet (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
What God says to Jeremiah is true for each of us. God knew us before we were born. He gave us life in the womb. He appointed some specific task for each of us. It may not be as a "prophet to the nations" as it was for Jeremiah. It may not be to set a nation free as it was for Moses. But we each have a purpose. The basic purpose for each human being is to know God, to love him and to serve him in whatever way God asks.
For reflection: Knowing, loving and serving God are my tasks. Where am I with each of these?
Let us pray. (based on Psalm 139) Lord, you know everything about me - the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet you surround me with your love and your presence so much so that I cannot escape them. You think of me day and night. I am always on your mind. Thank you for knowing and loving me so thoroughly.
When God calls people to do his work he accepts no excuses. Take the example of Moses and his conversation with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17). When God tells Moses he is sending him back to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery under Pharaoh, Moses' first objection is, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Next Moses tries "What if they ask me what your name is?" Then, "What if they don't believe me or listen to me?" Still not willing to go, Moses objects, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." Like any good salesman, God answers every question and meets every objection. Finally Moses gets right down to what he really wants. "O Lord, please send someone else." And God gets angry. Even so, he doesn't let Moses off the hook, he simply assigns Aaron to go with him.
When God wants us to do something, he accepts no excuses. Arguing with God is useless; he has all the answers. When God calls, he qualifies, equips and empowers the person called. As reluctant as Moses was, he still succeeded.
For reflection: What has God called me to do? What excuses am I giving for not doing it?
Let us pray. Father, you are the God of No Excuses. You are God Who Calls, God Who Qualifies, God Who Equips and God Who Empowers. I come to do your will.
Now that the Olympics are upon us we are inspired by the Olympians' dedication to training and competing in their chosen sport. They train and compete for years in preparation for World Championships and Olympic gold. They maintain a proper diet, a tough mindset and practice, practice, practice.
Perhaps St. Paul was something of an athlete too because he used many sports metaphors in his letters. He wanted to encourage people to keep going on, moving forward, never giving up. Paul said, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training" (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
What type of training do God's people need in order to keep living the Christian life? Studying his word (the proper diet), praying (a tough mindset), and practice, practice, practice.
For reflection: Today let us feast on a word that leads to a proper mindset and takes a lot of practice. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
Let us pray. For our prayer today, find in a quiet place, a comfortable position, and soak in the love of God.
This time of advent, of waiting, of expectation, of praying for the Kingdom to come is not one of passivity. No, we are actively preparing for the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth, for the second coming of Christ for all. We do this because he wants all to be saved and none to be lost (1 Timothy 2:4).
This theme of Kingdom expectation (which has gone on much longer in this blog than I expected) can be traced throughout the Scriptures as we have seen over the last several weeks. It permeates the Old Testament. It threads its way through Jesus and his teachings and prayers. It turns up consistently in Paul's letters. This expectation, this hope, leads us not to sit back and watch, but to go forth and do.
All will not be saved if each of us does not do our part. Some are preachers; some are preparers, some are pray-ers (Ephesians 4:11-12). We each have our assignment. The Kingdom of God depends on us. God is waiting too.
For reflection: How well have I been fulfilling my assignment from God?
Let us pray. Come, Holy Spirit. Fill my heart. Set it on fire for you. Renew me. Empower me every day to do what you expect. Renew the face of the earth.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.