Sunday, September 21, 2008

Losing My Voice

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
- Isaiah 55:6-9

For various reasons I've lost my voice recently, both figuratively and literally. The coinciding of the physical with the spiritual loss can be diagnosed to be that of a deficient immune system. It isn't that the will isn't there, for it is. It is that my will is of a weakened state. Not that this discourse ought to defend my deficient acts or thoughts, but it speaks to the nature that we are all faced with in the flesh. It is not that we ought to cast away the flesh and cling solely to the spirit for that would belittle and demean what Christ Jesus did to raise the flesh to perfection with the spirit. For if we took it to be just the spirit for what we are to strive to live in, we'd fall into the heresy of Gnosticism. In short, we are both flesh and spirit, and in this world we must walk the tightrope of the two to its completion. We ought to run the race not in ignorance but in grace and in love.

How do we do it? Today's reading from the first chapter of Philippians sheds some light on it. For it's right before today's passage, specifically in verses 9 through 11, that we are given an invocation:
And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-11

We do it through acts of faith and acts of love. In this chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, St. Paul is contemplating the various prospects of martyrdom or continued missionary labor and how his is in continued missionary labor.

As we see in St. Paul's discourse of today's reading, Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a, we ought to see that "Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20c) and even more importantly the fact that "for to me life is Christ, and death is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

It is through various levels of martyrdom that acts of faith are made. In essence, we die to ourselves for the sake of Christ in acts of faith. So whether it is through death of the flesh or death of an old life of spiritual deficiencies and immorality, we must live a martyr's life.

Meanwhile, it is in missionary labor that we are called to acts of love. It is in the flesh that we are called to be Christ to one another. And so it is in the two visible acts that the spirit and the flesh are one. And we mustn't forget this.

I write all of this exploration of Scripture today not so much for your instruction or my own edification but for the edification for our God and for the strengthening of myself in Christ. For it is in times of distress and confusion that the Spirit wills itself to be known, to be grown, and to call us in the Spirit to be moved to greater conversion and, thus, greater love.

So in the end I have lost my voice, however it isn't lost but rather replaced by one that is more important. It isn't silenced but rather tuned again to that which matters more. I pray most this day for the strengthening the flesh of each of us so that we may all be truly united as one in the Spirit and that in both spirit and flesh we are strengthened in Christ Jesus.

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