There’s nothing like pregnancy to make a woman want to get in shape. At least as far as I understand it, the news that there is a new precious little life inside one’s body transforms your priorities. Ideally, all other pleasures and concerns take backseat to the priority of bringing a child into the world. In that hope of welcoming a strong, healthy son or daughter, one takes strong measures.
Alcohol, of course, is the first thing to go. Beth, my wife, gave up chocolate (a huge sacrifice) and caffeine during her first pregnancy. She took an exercise class. She took vitamins. She watched her diet. Life got reordered around the hope and promise of the coming birth.
Something like but even greater than the hope of pregnancy is what John has in mind in our text for this Sunday, which we are celebrating as All Saints Sunday. I John 3:1-3 speaks of our status as believers in Jesus Christ. We are “children of God.” The only begotten Son of God has brought us into a sibling relationship with Himself, making us also God’s children.
Verse 2 is wonderfully suggestive, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.” There is more to what Jesus has done for us and will do for us than we can see right now. We have this new status as God’s sons and daughters, but the full ramifications of that status are yet to be seen. It’s much like the expectation of pregnancy when one knows and understands that a child is on the way, but the full implications of that arrival are yet to be disclosed, and will take years and years.
The full implications of what we will be in Christ “when we see him as he is,” will take an eternity to unfold. The joy of knowing God’s love will keep on growing and expanding, far beyond anything we may anticipate now. Yet, like the hope of pregnancy, the hope of our ongoing birth as children of God calls us to measures of preparation. John says that “All who have this hope in him purify themselves…”
We see something of what that purification means in the Gospel reading for All Saints Sunday, the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-12. The children of God will cultivate and follow a spiritual discipline and virtue that prepares them to receive the love and blessing of God, even things like spiritual poverty, meakness, and a sadness (mourning) for the evil of this world. One of the beatitudes is specifically for the “pure in heart.”
As we remember this Sunday those who have gone before us and who in Christ are already experiencing some of the fruition of that hope of what we will become in Him, their lives call us to take those measures which prepare us to be with them. We think especially of those Christians whose lives are shining examples of those who have purified themselves in the hope of that new life. May our worship this Sunday help us to imitate them and purify ourselves in hope.