God’s Ecology of Holiness

2 Peter 3:18


Ecology is that branch of biology that deals with the relationships between living organisms and their environment. Every living thing is immersed in a context or environment with specific characteristics.

Just as there are biological ecologies, there are social ecologies where individuals are immersed in social environments. It is not uncommon for us to be in and out of several social ecologies in one day: for example, home, marriage, work, the supermarket, church. Among my favorite social ecologies are Christian summer camps.

When Peter says “Grow in grace,” (2 Pet. 3:18) he is speaking ecologically. He means that we should immerse ourselves in God’s grace, in His loving kindness and in His presence. He provides a nutrient-enriched environment through our relationships with Him and others.

In the ecology of holiness, God’s plan is that we first develop and progress. As we move ahead in our relationship with Christ, He does a deepening work. Often the work is done in a social/spiritual context of others and always in the context of God’s presence in our lives. Second, at every stage of our growth and development, His love goes before us to help us move toward a restoration to His image and likeness. Third, He provides for us a nutrient-enriched environment to be the “means of grace,” promoting our growth and well-being. This includes Christian teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42), and all the wholesome activities of small fellowship groups. God uses others to mediate His grace to us. It is this daily immersion in the means of grace that promotes this social ecology of holiness.

Brother Lawrence, a twelfth-century monk, understood the ecology of holiness when he practiced the presence of God throughout the day. In the wonderful book The Practice of the Presence of God, Lawrence tells how Jesus was experienced as present at all times, and with whom fellowship was immediately enjoyed and never ceasing. He was assigned often menial and mundane work in the monastery and yet he carried out his assignments in partnership with Christ, as his co-laborer, rejoicing and praising Him continually throughout each day.

Our lives represent the threads of the tapestry woven together to be both beautiful and functional for our Lord. To “grow in grace” is, like Brother Lawrence, to daily abide in Jesus Christ and to be immersed in the ecology of God’s grace and holiness.

Jonathan S. Raymond, The War Cry


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