We continue to explore what living in a CHRIST-centred story looks like. We've seen that Scripture (C—canon) helps locate our story within God's story. It is his (H—holy God) story of salvation (R—redemption) that is able to bring about real transformation (I—inward change). This month, Major Andrew Morgan shares a picture of sanctification (S—set apart) as we engage in community life beyond the walls of our corps.
“We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
This past winter marked 50 years since I started playing hockey. For the past seven years, I’ve played on a team with some young men from our corps and others you might find in a typical Canadian “beer league.” Though I wouldn’t say anyone on our team hates me (even though I am not the best hockey player), I think a few of the non-Salvation Army guys find me something of a peculiarity. They might wonder, “Who is this old guy?” or “He’s not just old—he’s different!”
I’ll admit that when an opposing team’s player takes a cheap shot or tries to injure me intentionally, I have to work hard to be different, keep my cool and not respond in kind.
Coaches inspire young hockey players to put their whole spirit, soul and body into the game. I play with passion, but I also try to remain blameless in thought, word and deed as I play, working out the privilege of sanctification.
I like to think that I am following the example of Jesus, who was known to hang out with a rough-hewn bunch of guys, including fishermen, tax collectors and other interesting characters. Might the image of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, somehow be seen in me as I hang out with a bunch of rough-hewn hockey players?
Now, holiness and being Christlike are not about me trying to be nice or a good example. If that were the case, I would fail all the time. Similarly, I want to clarify that holiness is not only about what I do or not do. Because of my response to the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in me, guides me and has control of my life as I give him control. He sets me apart as different. More than just the holiness of my heart, my everyday life (even my hockey playing) should show I am different.
As someone who desires to be holy, I pray that my Christian witness will cause my hockey buddies to see something different, maybe even attractive, in my life. No, I’m not perfect; I am being perfected in holiness. I like to think that I am on the path of holiness—learning, repenting, committing and striving to best represent the holy God I love and serve. I like to think that my whole spirit, soul and body are in the process of being sanctified—made holy, preserved blameless—while I play another hockey game.
My teammates might fault me for my errant pass picked up by the opposing team. They might criticize me for my failure to clear a player from in front of our net, resulting in another goal against us. They might even make fun of me for not participating in lewd locker room talk. I belong to the team, but I don’t belong to the world that aligns itself to what is contrary to a holy God. I pray for opportunities to show and tell why this strange old guy is different.
It is a privilege to still be playing hockey after 50 years. It is a still greater privilege to have the possibility of being wholly sanctified and experience how my whole spirit, soul and body may be preserved blameless—even while playing hockey—as I wait for my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s coming again.
Major Andrew Morgan will take up a new appointment as the officer commanding of the Italy and Greece Command, with the rank of lt-colonel, as of September 1, 2022.
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