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Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Snippet: Sealed with More Than a Kiss

You may have at some point in your life received a letter marked with the friendly (if from relatives) or flirtatious acronym, "SWAK," which stands for "Sealed with a kiss."  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, this acronym first popped up in letters home from soldiers in WWI.  SWAK was an intangible mark of affection, unless the soldier had been eating barbecue ribs at the time of writing.  Invisible as it was, it gave special significance to the contents of the letter.

Today I was thinking about how God also seals His work with a kiss--a holy kiss.  Like the inventors of SWAK, God also marks His work with an intangible emblem of His affection.  Where His words and actions toward us in person (that is, Christ's earthly ministry) fail to convey His present feelings, and His letters to us (that is, the Bible) fall short somehow in conveying the nuances of that love, He sealed His work with two spiritual emblems of that love--Christ's sacrifice and the promised Holy Spirit.

Now, Christ's sacrifice is more of a tangible emblem of the extent of His love for us--like a postage stamp.  Christ's death (the symbolism and significance of that death is explained here) made it possible for God to communicate with those He loved.  Before Christ came, all people were permanently separated from God.  Their sins blocked them from ever truly knowing God, like a lawless person with unpaid fines is not eligible for the status of being considered "law-abiding" or "worthy of public office."  Then Christ came, and paid the fines and restored the status of all who would obey Him (see Romans 5: 6-10).  Those who believe and obey have fully-restored communion with God, as if all the undelivered messages are finally able to make it to our mailboxes.

So, you say you have been redeemed through Christ's sacrifice.  That is wonderful news!  Did you know that He has also sealed that relationship with an invisible emblem, which demonstrates to Him and to the world that He is pleased with us and is present in our lives?  I'm not talking about a birthmark or a fingerprint.  Those demonstrate how closely He pays attention to each of us, but they don't denote any kind of special relationship with us as individuals.  He also didn't seal us with any kind of mark we can put on ourselves--be it cross jewelry, Christian t-shirts, ink, scars, or anything of that sort.  This is something totally unique and impossible to imitate.  He sealed us with the Holy Spirit!
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1: 13, 14 NIV)
When letter writers wrote "SWAK" on their letters, they were really saying that they were sending along a kiss, in spirit, so to speak, and it was sent (or received) with the understanding that it would be honored with faithfulness.  The Holy Spirit is like that, except better, when He comes.  He is God's presence and His love revealed to us in part.  Someday, we will know that in full.  Until then, we will be marked with the presence of God in our lives--a living presence, a Being full of power who leads us to understand God's will; comforts us when we are in distress; and glorifies God in humility, love, and patience.  When we continue, after salvation, to justify secret and "little" sins, we are dishonoring and betraying the Holy Spirit in our lives--something to consider when we are making even the smallest decisions in our daily living.

Unlike Judas' kiss, the Holy Spirit isn't an emblem of fickleness, self-love, or opportunism.  There is no threat of betrayal.  God isn't going to change His mind about us when He has marked us.  He has called us also to be faithful to Him, just as He has promised to be faithful to us.  So, today I'm asking, have you been sealed with God's holy kiss? Can others see His presence in you (see also Romans 16: 16)?  Are you being faithful to Him?

Some things to think about over your weekend.  Until next time, this is me reminding you to stay savvy!


Shannon said...

I appreciate the imagery of this post! Indeed, the difference between the soldier's note of SWAK and God's seal on us is two-fold: the One who promises is forever faithful (Psalm 37:25; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Hebrews 10:23), and since His seal is His living Spirit, He is able to help us remain faithful (2 Corinthians 4:13, 14; Galatians 5:5, 22, 23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)--if we will invite Him.