Summary: None of us are perfect, but maybe with the help of God we can get to be 99 and 44/100% pure.
One of the real catchwords that advertisers love to use these days is pure. I guess the thinking goes that if the company can convince us, the consumers, that the product is pure, we will buy it. If we really stop, and we listen to what people are saying, we can hear them using the word “pure” often.
That got my curiosity going. Often when I am curious I will go out on the Internet and do a little bit of research. I got on the search engine Google and typed the word “Pure.” There were more than 342 million responses. Yahoo had 112 million. I guess that Google really is more thorough that Yahoo.
I thought I would look into a few of those sites. First there was “Vermont Pure Spring Water.” They claimed that they prided themselves “…on bottling Vermont Pure Natural Spring Water, the best tasting spring water available. Vermont Pure Natural Spring Water naturally bubbles to the surface deep within the Green Mountains of Vermont after being naturally filtered for up to 0 years through a geologic cornucopia of rocks and minerals.”
Then there was Pure Canadian Maple Syrup. That reminded me of the pure maple syrup that Rick and Pete Lon brought me from their spring break trip to the northeast.
There was also pure Java (that is an Internet computer language), pure and applied geophysics, I will guarantee I didn’t even look at that website, pure fishing, pure baseball, and even something called “Pure Honda Juice.” I didn’t look at that one or a few others that I won’t even mention this morning.
There were also a few news stories that talked about things being pure. The most common of these stories, by far, were stories about the purity of illegal drugs on the streets. One headline jumped out. It read, “Pure Heroin.”
Ivory soap has a slogan that is one of the first things that sprang to mind when I started thinking on this idea of purity. That slogan lent itself to be the title of this morning’s message. 99 and 44/100% pure has been their claim to fame for more than a century now. As I think about that it makes me wonder, pure what? If it is pure soap, I would hope that it would be 100% pure.
If I remember my VERY basic high school chemistry, it takes more than one chemical to make soap. How pure can it be? And, by the way, what is the other 56/100%.
One of my all-time favorite musicians is Ronnie Milsap. He had a song out several years ago titled “Pure Love.” IN the song he borrowed Ivory Soap’s slogan too, “99 and 44/100% pure.” Milsap added the word love on the end. The song said, “Pure love. You’re the picture of pure love, 99 and 44/100% pure love.”
As I thought about our lesson this morning, and also about Ronnie Milsap’s song, I also though about John Wesley’s idea of going on to perfection. In the lesson John talks about our hope and that everyone who has this hope is pure, just as Jesus is pure. He also says that what we will be is not yet known but that we will be like Jesus. Then there is also a third idea in the text that if we are living in Christ we have no more sin. This all seems quite puzzling to me. All of my life I have been taught and told that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. First I believe that. And, second that isn’t a saying that is in the past tense. It is a current tense statement. Further, it seemingly contradicts what John says in chapter one when he says that we all sin and that anyone who says that he is without sin is a liar. So, what is up with all of this? It just doesn’t seem to make any real sense.
I have no problem with the part of the lesson that tells us, “We shall be like him.” That idea is an element of Wesley’s idea of going on to perfection. But I also see that as saying that we are not perfect yet, we are just working in that direction. From the time of our conversion, for the rest of our lives, we are striving to live a Godly life through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is called sanctifying grace. It starts the moment of our conversion and goes on for the rest of our lives. Does that mean that we don’t sin? No, I don’t think so. Does it mean that we are totally righteous? Again, I don’t think so. Does it mean that we are constantly striving to live that Godly life? It absolutely does.