BEHAVING A BIT DIVINE
The Apostle Peter believed that Christians were endowed with godliness so that they could participate in a divine nature that can claim Christ’s promises (II Peter 1:3-4). How can a human being become godly? Instantly, we think of holiness, sanctification, seclusion, spiritual worship, fasting, prayer and other religious deeds like kindness and brotherly love (II Peter 1:5-9). All these deal with human behavior. We know that the potential is there because man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), there were sons of God that strayed after the daughters of men (Gen. 6:2), the sons of the Most High were called gods (Ps. 82:6), Jesus identified with being divine, while He was human (Jn. 10:34-35) and His followers could become children of God by their actions (Jn. 1:12-13). Christians, too, can become godly and behave divinely.
To begin with, God has made it possible by making salvation available and He gave up His Son to prove it. Before Jesus laid down His life, in order to confirm the availability of salvation, He identified with the Father by His behavior and action. “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘show us the father?’ The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing the work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (Jn. 14:9-11). There was an intimate relationship between Father, Son and work. Through salvation or the kingdom, Father and Son practiced godliness or the will of God among man. Jesus demonstrated His godliness in what He did as a human being. He did not take people out of the world but healed them so they could fend for themselves (Mt. 11:5-6). He brought back the Law and the Prophets (Mt. 5:17-20). He upheld the bond of marriage (Mt. 19:1-9). He explained the resurrection (Mt. 22:23-32). Luke understood Jesus to be more concerned with the being godly on earth, than in the resurrection (Lk. 20:27-38). He advised on civic duties (Lk. 20:25). He illustrated how to love a neighbor or a stranger (Lk. 10:25-37). There are four Gospels filled with Jesus’ behavior and deeds that teach us how to be a bit divine.
The same godliness or willingness to comply with the Father and the Son can exist with the believer. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:12-14). The question that pops up is, “Do what?” The answer is crystal clear. “Everything that brings glory to the Father.” God knows and does what is best for us, and what He does result in glorification for us. In doing what Jesus did, we build our own reputation and earn a reward on top of it: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt. 5:11-12). Living a bit godly has always been annoying to the ungodly. This is a serious issue. If we role in the mud with the world, according to Jesus, it is like throwing pearls before swine (Mt. 7:6). Even a small bit of divine living is a big light in an amoral and immoral society (Mt. 5:14-16). Let us face facts! What have we accomplished by isolating godliness from our way of life. It has not been excluded but driven into sanctuaries and they too now indulge in a lukewarm godliness. With the separation of Church and State, we have trampled our soul and conscience into the ground. We no longer feel guilty of deserting our spouses, our children and our responsibilities.
Where does godliness begin? It begins with me, and not with God. The Biblical message is that if I do not provide for my own, then I am worse than a heathen or an unbeliever (I Tim. 5:8). The person that is first in my life is my wife, then my children and then those that depend on me. That was and still is the order God, the Creator has established (Mt. 19:4-6). The sacred vow between a man and a woman is the first step to godliness and it is the foundation of the family, the community, the Church and the State. To help us maintain godliness, God gave to Moses the “Ten Commandments” that were to be taught in the home before they were being taught and used in schools and public places (Deut. 6:4-9). When a third party disrupts a marriage contract, chaos follows. Eve let Satan in and sin began to flourish. The sons of God were unequally yoked with godless women and the flood swept them away. Sodom and Gomorrah became promiscuous and the two cities were destroyed. Israel’s march toward Canaan was almost destroyed by sexual immorality (Num. 25). Millions have died of diseases caused by infidelity. A king of England subdued religion to his sexual passion. The world’s greatest religious and social conflict now in progress began when Abraham and Hagar produced Ishmael out of wedlock. The list is endless. If we dishonor the marriage bed, we lose our godliness (Heb. 13:4). It is tragic that Christian marriages are being tarnished by divorce and a lack of desire to be reconciled. Instead, they seek contentment in second hand unions that increase hardships and suffering to their children, family and community. Our welfare roles alone have become cost prohibitive. It always begins with one tiny ungodly act and then mushrooms into insurmountable problems. We can halt the moral decline and even reverse it by starting to behave a bit more divine. That is just hopeful thinking. But there was a city called Nineveh that did repent and God was merciful (Jonah). Jesus promised that we, too, could find our way back through Him (Jn.14: 6).