Here is the second installment in the series on Piety from Jim Edgel:
Authentic or true piety comes from a dynamic, personal relationship with God that is conscious, growing and shared. Piety is living a life that responds to God’s amazing gift of grace in His son Jesus. Conscious of the personal value of God’s grace and consciously choosing a life with Him. This life in Christ must be continually growing. We either grow or decline. We cannot remain still. As we live this life of grace, we must share it with others and be willing to accept people where they are, listen to them and share our most precious gift – our time. As we become more self-giving, we grow in our potential as human beings and understand we are God’s channel of grace to others and ourselves… Christ must remain at the center of all aspects of our life, every action, every decision we make. We can’t say I love Jesus but this is business, work or vacation; or I am having a difficult time right now, I must take care of myself. God’s word tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” … What is Authentic or true piety? Authentic piety is directing our whole life to God. When we leave God out of certain areas of our life, we leave a huge space for Satan to slip in. Directing our whole life to God is not about a long list of things we are forbidden to do. It is about consciously sharing a growing Christ-centered life, which comes from the response of a grateful heart. When we give our life over to God and have a willingness to be changed by the Holy Spirit, we begin to discover the true purpose and plan God has created us for. We start the most amazing adventure we could ever imagine… For our whole life to be directed to God;
The three elements of every act – ones knowing, wanting and doing have to be directed to God. We should know God and know what He teaches. When our knowledge centers on God, God directs our knowing. Wanting is the emotions that drive our actions. Wanting becomes loving when our love for God drives our actions. We strive to act according to God’s will. Piety is directing our whole life to God by knowing who God is and what He taught. Loving God with our whole heart and striving to carry out His will is the full response to the gift of grace.
Piety is an Ideal. Living in a relationship with God is the Christian Ideal. This is a lifelong process that brings us to a personal relationship with God. And is nurtured in the same way as other intimate relationships we pursue in life.
With God at the center of our life, the Holy Spirit will help us maintain the goal of emulating the character of Jesus and His approach to dealing with people and problems. All of us, no matter how capable we become in our Christian walk, will make mistakes. I personally make many mistakes and at times need correction. None of us ever get it all right … Except for Jesus, of course. One of the greatest marks of maturity as human beings and to reveal the level of our spiritual maturity is the ability to receive correction. Other things that reveal our level of spiritual maturity are:
Characteristics of authentic piety. Courage, Naturalness, and Vibrant and joyful life. Courage is not foolishness; it is the mark of one who will do what is right because it is the right thing to do. It takes courage to step out of our “comfort zone” and accept new challenges that God may bring into our life. It also takes courage to forgive someone who has hurt us. Remember, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us … It is vital that everything we do as Christians be natural. Our actions should be a natural response to a grateful heart. People living a life of authentic piety should stand out only because of the love they have for God and others. Jesus said “By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” An ordinary life lived to the fullest is not dull, it is exciting and rich. As our faith deepens, we sense a new meaning to each part of life. We grasp new potential and realize new talents that God has created in us. As we direct our whole life to God our personal relationship with Him impacts every area of our lives. The practices of piety are those things we do that nourish our relationship with God. Practices of piety are not piety in themselves; they are our concrete, visible responses to God’s love for us. Practices of piety such as worship, prayer and Christian service to others flow out of our relationship with God and nourish it. Life must be approached from the perspective that all we do is part of our response to God’s call. Some may only know who God is by being around Christians. The outcome of authentic piety is the peace of God. As we are directing our whole life to God, we are conscious of being in a relationship with the Triune God. We are: Children of the Father, brothers of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit.
To be continued…