In this reading, "the Lord whom you are seeking" (CEB) is said to be like both the heavenly embodiment of the purifier as well as the agents of purification in and of themselves. This Lord—Jesus—is beyond comparison in power and ability, as well as deeply engaged in the needs that we have as people in need of purification.
This embodiment of our Lord is the source of our hope as Christians. It is by God’s grace that we are justified so that righteousness may be made real within us. I imagine God as a parent saying, “This will hurt me more than it hurts you,” as discipline is administered to help shape a child for the child’s future good. None of us likes to be corrected, but what if we open ourselves to allow God’s power to influence us? After all, it is only God who can mold us into newness of life for divine and righteous purposes.
When we receive Christ into our lives and come face-to-face with our Lord, we must accept the reality of our imperfections and offer to God our suffering in the woundedness of such knowledge. In doing so, we then become refineable into the purest nature possible for each of us. We make ourselves open to being cleansed and shaped for our unique calls to follow Christ. God can cleanse us so deeply that mind, body, and spirit become like the finest materials that earth has to offer—yet better because we “will belong to the LORD, presenting a righteous offering” (CEB) of ourselves.
God, guide us closer to perfection so that our minds find clarity, our bodies are healthier by your grace, the spirit within reflects the depths of your presence, and others near and far know you through us. Give us the courage to come face-to-face with our past, knowing that the present and future in Christ are full of hope for a good and righteous way of living. Amen.
The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.
Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you encountered the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
Read Luke 1:68-79. In what ways have you experienced God’s tender mercy in your life?
Read Philippians 1:3-11. How do you make expressing your gratitude for others a daily habit?
Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?
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