The collect for Sunday, which collects the theme within our readings, reminds us that in light of the hope we have as children of God by turning to Him through faith in Jesus, we are to grow in Jesus’ likeness.
This process, which we call sanctification, continues the whole of our lives. And we are called to embrace it wholly, not just in select aspects of it. The call to lead pure lives means not just the alleviation of immediate needs and troubles, but also allowing God to do the work of transformation into the character of Jesus in all aspects of it. I have always loved the rich imagery of C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest scholars in our tradition, who so vividly captures such themes. The following excerpt from Lewis’ writings, which highlights this growth, resonates within me as the son of a dentist. Lewis wrote:
When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother--at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from my pain; but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they would start fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. Our Lord is like the dentists. Dozens of people go to him to be cured of some particular sin. Well, he will cure it all right, but he will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if you once call him in, he will give you the full treatment.
As we reflect upon the high calling upon our lives, perhaps a question to ponder is the approach of our hearts toward such growth. Do we view it as ‘pulling teeth’ or a welcomed treatment for our souls? Furthermore, are we willing to go to the physician of our souls, Jesus, daily to receive the treatments we so need amidst our lives so we may be ready for His return, or only when ‘spiritual cavities’ arise? May God give us such an unwavering hope in the promise as His children that we welcome the process of growth it entails as we pray this week!