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moment by moment

January 27, 2012

i read this this morning on Ray Ortlund’s blog over at the Gospel Coalition’s website and thought it was written brilliantly, so i am sharing it here as well:

“If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise.  But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty.  And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation.  All too often young people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we are called upon to show to a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful.

Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity.  I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously.  In order to exhibit both simultaneously, we must look moment by moment to the work of Christ, to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our moment-by-moment lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church before the Watching World (Downers Grove, 1971), page 63.

By personality, each of us is predisposed to favor one or the other, either purity and rightness or compassion and softness.  In ourselves, we veer off one way or the other.  And we do not feel wrong about it, because our defaults reflect something real about God.  God is pure.  And God is compassionate.  But God is bigger than we are.  God is all that he is all the time, and he is the measure of all that we need all the time.  Ministering in his name, but within the limits of our natural distortions, defaces the loveliness of God in the world today.  It is unfair to him and harmful to others.  And having a faithful doctrinal statement does not by itself rescue us from our personal smallness and ugliness.  It is only as we lean hard on the Lord moment by moment that his power enters in to make us larger than ourselves.  Self-mistrust and an outward looking to the Lord moment by moment — it is how we can demonstrate the beauty of the gospel.

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