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Holiness! It’s a word that elicits some type of response in you. Perhaps it’s laden with images of rules, regulations and oppressive burdents. Or perhaps it is mysterious, ambiguous, and a bit hard to grasp. Either way, you have come to the right place. At HolinessAndUnity.org we are happy to provide for you a welcome and a word of encouragement to pursue your curiosity about this wonderfully magnetic theme that describes the very nature of God. We call you to freedom, wholeness, and engagement. I am hopeful that as you explore these web pages you will not only see wonderful documents that help your thinking, but that you will also see pictures, books, and events that will inspire your heart to pursue God’s holiness with renewed passion. May God guide you and if I may be of any help to you, please let me know. Let’s walk together in surrendered humility as together we seek to reflect the holy nature of our God!
Kevin Mannoia, Chair
By Lisa Jackinsky
Learning to live in a foreign country is hard. The ways of thinking are different, the ways of acting are different, the ways of being are different. It takes time and effort to adjust.
After college I spent two years in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer and experienced a completely different way of life: instead of huge superstores, there was a small outdoor market; instead of rock music, there was cumbia; instead of American football, there was soccer; and instead of roast beef, there was guinea pig.
Learning to live fully in the kingdom of God is like learning to live in a new country. The ways of thinking and acting and being are different. It takes time and effort to adjust. This is the process of transformation, or, as some call it, spiritual formation – an active, relentless participation with God to become more like Christ; to become a new creation.
In Colossians 1:13, Paul reminds followers of Christ that, “God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons (and) set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves…” The Common English Bible says He’s “transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”
When we say “yes” to following Jesus, we’re transferred into the kingdom of God. But the customs are new to us. Just because I move to Ecuador doesn’t mean I suddenly love soccer, or cumbia, or rice with an egg on top for breakfast. It takes time.
And so, Paul assures these Christians that he and others are praying for them – praying that they’ll fully adopt the customs and attitudes and ways of God’s kingdom.
In Colossians 1: 9-12, Paul describes four of those customs, four ways of life of this kingdom. Over the next four posts, we’ll explore each one.
In Colossians 1: 9 – 12, Paul describes four ways of life for those living fully in the kingdom of God. The first is found in verse 9. “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying…asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works” (The Message).
One way new citizens adapt to God’s kingdom is to learn God’s will and ways. We get to know God – through Scripture, prayer, the Church, life. We learn to discern how God works.
“Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world,” Paul says in Romans 12:2, “but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is...”
Discernment is a “byproduct of spiritual transformation,” Ruth Haley Barton says in her book Sacred Rhythm: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Formation. As we partner with God to change how we think, we begin to discern God’s will and God’s ways.
But it’s also a habit, she says. “The habit of discernment is a quality of attentiveness to God that is so intimate that over time we develop an intuitive sense of God’s heart and purpose in any given moment. We become familiar with God’s voice – the tone, quality, and content – just as we become familiar with the voice of a human being we know well.”
An article in Parenting magazine says that “around the seventh and eighth month, a fetus's heart rate slows down slightly whenever his mother is speaking.” The baby knows his mother’s voice and his mother’s voice is calming to him.
The same is true for us. With time, we learn to know God’s voice and trust His goodness.
So one way new citizens settle into God’s kingdom is to learn to know God and His ways.
(Part 2 of 4 coming soon.)
Learn more about Lisa Jackinsky.