Friday, February 26, 2010

I Wait

From Blog10

I wait for splitting sky
And blaring trumpet,
For this age ended and next begun.
I wait for archangelic announcement
And for the Lord himself
       With the clouds.
I wait for graves cracked open,
   Empty chrysalises.

I wait for rising up to meet him in the air.
I wait for being with the Lord
I wait and purify myself
(Though really he's the one
Who purifies me.)
I wait until that day.

And so, come, Lord Jesus.

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

--1 John 3:2-3

Photo ©2010 and poem public domain by James L Swindle

Note: In discussing 1 John 3:3 with a friend, I learned that he and I saw it differently. Does seeing God as he is cause us to be pure, or does being pure enable us to see God as he is? The commentaries, it turns out, are split. Matthew Henry saw it both ways. I'm not sure which way the apostle John meant it, but both possible interpretations lead to truth.


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

"Does seeing God as he is cause us to be pure, or does being pure enable us to see God as he is?"

I'm not surprised that commentaries are split on this one. After all, commentaries come out of us when we have walked with the Master, and we each have something slightly different to say: our relationships with Him are all one-of-a-kind, so slightly different, and yet this does not disturb the peace we experience in all having the same mind of Christ.

Personally, I have never asked the question I quoted above, though I have read the passage that you are referring to maybe a hundred times.

In the Orthodox Church there is a strong contingent voicing the idea that we must purify ourselves before we can "see" God and experience Him. That's what is behind the tradition of having a spiritual father or mother, who carefully guides you along the road to perfection.

Alas! That is not the way the Lord has led me, and to some of them, I am a "poor lost soul," and they look on with subtle condescension when I respond to their question, "Who is your spiritual father?" with, "Well, no one in particular."

There are those among the Orthodox, like myself, who have many spiritual fathers and mothers but not in a structured or formal way, with saints who like us realise that there is only One teacher, the Messiah (cf. Matthew 23:8-12), and would not allow us to pedestalize them. I am the same way. I sometimes am spiritual father to someone, and then we switch places the next moment. How is this? Because Christ who is alive and among us at this very moment is, as He says, the only Teacher. We only say what we hear Him saying.

Back to the topic, I take the verse quite literally. Seeing Christ at His glorious coming will perfect us into the image of His holiness and His eternity, and that, whether we were hard on ourselves or easy, as long as we believe in Him. The part about trying to purify oneself, as He is pure, is just the work that He has given us to do, while we await His return. He knows that we cannot finish the job. He knows that even with His grace, our old man will not be completely burned up until we see the light of His face. He knows who is fooling Him, even though they are mighty in works and self-discipline. He knows who is following Him, even though their performance may not be spectacular. He knows everything about us, and He doesn't judge those whom He has redeemed, because everyone is judged by the Word He has spoken to each. Will our consciences condemn us before the Lord? That is the question.

Try to be pure as He is pure? What else is there to do? Be changed into His likeness at His second and glorious coming? How can we not be, if we have confessed Him before men?

I love your poem very, very much, and the photo that goes with it. It has blessed me greatly today, brother.

Thank you.

Jim Swindle said...

Thanks, brother Romanós. I'm glad the poem spoke to you.

When we discussed the passage, neither my friend nor I had considered that there was more than one possible interpretation. We each assumed that we saw it as it was. I assumed that the fact we'll see him as he is means he will have first made us pure as he is, or we couldn't endure it. The friend assumed that seeing him as he is will cause us to become like him.

When we discuss the scripture with others (either in person or electronically), we sharpen one another. I'm still not sure which of the two interpretations is more true. I do NOT see it as meaning that we will have purified ourselves sufficiently. We purify ourselves, but our own purification of ourselves is never, ever enough. Only Jesus is enough. We must turn from sin, but even the turning comes by his grace. Purity and eternal life and every good thing are in him.

nothinghypothetical said...

I must say that I reflect very much like my brother Romanós.

Purity is not a think that I do, or God does, but we do together. Purity is a common work, a liturgy.

We give Him back what He gave to us. There is either division nor confusion.

I loved the poem, thank you for writing it.