Preparing our hearts, minds, and souls to hear and reflect upon the Word of God.
Prayer of focus
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good thing as surpass our understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I am feeling a bit disconnected this week as I study and reflect upon our reading from 1 Peter. I am not sure where the disconnection is coming from and perhaps you are feeling the same way as we are now 2-months into the stay-at-home or quarantine or isolation of COVID-19. In my disconnection I hear in our reading how you and I are connected. Connected first and foremost to God and then to one another. The phrase of connection is Peter’s encouragement to his audience to keep their conscience clear.
The phrase “Keep your conscience clear” reads in the Greek “having a good conscience”. The word for “good” in verse sixteen is the same word for “good” in verse thirteen. Specifically, the Greek word for Good is used both as an adjective and noun denoting excellence. When you think of the word “good” what comes to mind? Who does Jesus call “good”?
In Greek philosophy the word “good” is what gives meaning. The meaning or understanding of conscience is based on being good. For example:
* For Sophists a Good conscience is a pleasant conscience — good meaning pleasant
* For Plato: the central idea; people become good through instruction in the good;
* For Aristotle: such things as reason, virtue, the golden mean, and the necessary.
Conscience which is defined by “good” has what meaning? What does it mean to have “conscience”?
Philosophically to have a conscience is when we reflect upon ourselves to achieve an awareness of our own knowledge or behavior such as Socrates, who as the wisest of men realizes his own ignorance. Socratic reflection has to do with knowledge; it points the way to victory over ignorance by awareness of it. For the Stoic, reflection has to do with seeking harmony with their own nature. In a general sense Hellenistic philosophical exercises in meditation are designed to promote self-development which includes self-examination which is to bring about moral conscience into practical deliberation. In other words, our recognition of our own ignorance … of situations … of tasks we need to accomplish such as, trying to do home repairs or car repairs or new tasks in using our computers. In our recognition of our lack of knowledge or ability we seek to learn the new skills or find someone to help us in those areas. This includes the assumptions we make about one another and how we live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The bottom line is that reflection … self-reflection … self-examination is a critical element in living in good conscience.
To live in good conscience is to live an examined life in Jesus Christ. What gives meaning to the Christian conscience is that it is a good conscience. It is an excellent conscience. The Christian conscience is the conscience of an individual or a group or community that exceeds all other consciences. It is a conscience based on being “good”.
How are we as followers of Jesus Christ connected to the “good”? Remember who does Jesus call good.
God bless you!
See you online Sunday!