For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (1 Cor 7:14).
A follow up to our gospel reading last week in reference to Jesus’ love to us as the Father loves him by asking us to “Go and bear fruits” (fruit of the Spirit and Conversion of souls) provides a helpful link to the call of sanctification (Jn 15). Today, in our gospel reading from John 17, Jesus, our true friend and not a flatterer is showing us the secret of our bearing abiding fruit so that his kingdom may come. Aristotle said, “The opposite of a friend is a flatterer.” As our friend, Jesus is sharing our common Kingdom interest with us, helping us to be wise and sanctify. As a friend, Jesus loves us just as Kierkegard said that to love another person is to help that person to love God and to be loved is to helped in loving God.
In John 17:17, Jesus asked the Father to set apart and purify the disciples for holy service “Sanctify them in truth … that they might be holy, and pattern of … holiness to those to whom they announced the salvation of God.” The instrument for such setting apart is the truth of God’sword – “Thy Word is truth.” The Word of God is the Means by which we are being sanctified. The purpose is that we will be holy and blameless (Acts 20:32). “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Christ’s Kingdom Come as we enter our sanctification process – In the home, church, and society at large. The call to sanctification like being born again is not a metaphor, but a spiritual and physical reality. It is a call to a practical progressive sanctification of our present life by the application of the truth of God’s Word. Martin Luther said that the organ of faith is the ear; we walk by faith not by sight, because what we see misleads. Just as faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God; faith goes by not hearing and not hearing the word of God.
For God’s Kingdom to Come, Sanctification as a process of becoming God’s nature is important just as the wish and expectation for Jesus’ body to be on this earth gets transformed into our vocation, our commissioning. Jesus’ body is no longer here, but Jesus’ body is very much here. We are the body of Christ. Teresa of Avila said “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out on a hurting world, yours are the feet with which he goes about doing good; yours are the hands with which he is to bless now.” In our post-Truth culture, Jesus’ prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come” is only possible when we are Sanctify by the Truth. Different active forms of our stewardship and leadership could be a barrier to the Coming of God’s Kingdom except you and I are sanctify by God’s Word. Enough of ‘sedentary Christianity, do-gooder Christianity,’ our good work is like a filthy rag, only the Word qualifies our stewardship and leadership.
The secret of the ‘Methodist movement of the 18th century, led by John and Charles Wesley was Word based. The fervent, holistic and missional faith born in the Great Awakening that still drives much of global evangelical Christianity, was shaped by the Sanctifying Word of God. God’s Word is the means or instrument by which each of us were saved and are therefore sanctified. This is why we also must witness to others using God’s Word. It is not our opinion that will save others; it is God’s Word. When we read the Bible, Jesus speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to him according to his Word and promises. God’s Kingdom Comes as our sanctification influences others. Christian relationship or leadership is a means of influence. Just as Jesus sanctified Himself, you and I also have a sanctifying call in our family, church and nation in general. In 1 Cor 7:14-16, Apostle Paul explained how the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, – the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise their children are unclean. Sanctification as a process of “Thy Kingdom Come” starts with how unbelievers benefit from the blessings that God gives to their believing mates. These blessings include a witness to the unsaved marriage partner of God’s reality. By living godly lives we have a holy influence upon the members of our family. By us they are surrounded with holy influences, using the words of John Wesley, “Else you children would have been brought up heathens whereas now they are Christians.”
The story of Sussana Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley provides us how God’s Kingdom came in the 18th century through Methodism, a process of sanctification. Indeed, ‘through much adversity, she dedicated her life to instilling a sense of Christian Destiny into each of her children. Her children went on to change the world.’ Susanna Wesley was the 25th of 25 children of her father, Dr. Samuel Annesley, a dissenter of the established church of England. Sussanna used the Word of God, the Bible, and the Word of God as the food for her family’s sanctification process including her unbelieving husband with the Holy Spirit as the agent who sanctifies. We are called to promote God’s Kingdom by influencing every person we come in contact with. We are in the need of daily sanctification by the truth of God’s Word to influence others. Let us prayerfully sing together with Frances Havergal:
|Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
|Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
|Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
|Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
|Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
|Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.