Friday, June 27, 2014

"City of God" XIV.9

Chapter 9:
Rather than getting caught up in the question of whether certain affections are moral or immoral, Christians are able to experience the full range of human existence because we have a properly oriented love:
Among ourselves, according to the sacred Scriptures and sound doctrine, the citizens of the holy city of God, who live according to God in the pilgrimage of this life, both fear and desire, and grieve and rejoice.  And because their love is rightly placed, all these affections of theirs are right.  They fear eternal punishment, they desire eternal life; they grieve because they themselves groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of their body; they rejoice in hope, because there “shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” In like manner they fear to sin, they desire to persevere; they grieve in sin, they rejoice in good works.  They fear to sin, because they hear that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” They desire to persevere, because they hear that it is written, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” They grieve for sin, hearing that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” They rejoice in good works, because they hear that “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” In like manner, according as they are strong or weak, they fear or desire to be tempted, grieve or rejoice in temptation.
And so on.

Even more, we feel this not only for ourselves, but for those in the church that we care for and for those whom we would like to see brought into the church. In this, we only follow the example of Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. Not, of course that we do so perfectly, since in this life we are still touched by sin and given to disproportionate passions and desires. Nor do we expect the full range of these emotions and affections to extend to eternity, since in heaven all bad emotions will have been refined out of our glorified bodies. While we're here, however, we must live these as we are called to do: "But so long as we wear the infirmity of this life, we are rather worse men than better if we have none of these emotions at all." We must never value coldness or hardness for their own sake.

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