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The Golden Path to the Higher Life in God

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6–7

I would like to take you to one of the most special and sacred places on earth.  That place is called Trinity Monastery located in Meteora, Greece. Three years ago, I had the privilege with my wife, Major Soo Kim, to visit this area through our territorial educational tour program. I still vividly remember how amazed I was by this breathtaking site.

The monastery exists in a rocky and mountainous area near several other monasteries. The area is represented as having one of the richest heritages of monastic spirituality in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Take a moment to imagine how impossible it would seem to build a monastery on such a high and rocky place. Monks started on bare ground and with few materials. We can only wonder how the first group of monks who founded this unique place poured their tireless labor into a seemingly endless process to build this monastery.

Think about the inspiration needed to build the monastery and the challenges that came with doing so. Think about the dedication it took and the anxiety it invoked. Consider the monks as they climbed the mountain, burdened by every rock in their hands and each stone on their shoulders. Consider their desires and motivations as they climbed.

I believe they had a holy longing to pursue a higher life in God. For them as monks, the unimaginably difficult labor must have been considered a sacred way of fulfilling God’s call.

I understand that monks are the people of God with a special vocation to set themselves apart from the world in order to pray for the world. This is the monk’s chosen path to that higher life.

If I could, I would ask the monks these questions: “What is the goal of the higher life in God? What is the path to experience it in this life? Does this goal belong only to a few chosen people?”

In Philippians 4:6–7, Paul teaches us the golden path to the higher life in God.

Amid severe persecution, Paul pours out advice to the church in Philippi through his letter to them. In doing so, God’s word comes to life. It is crystal clear that it is God’s desire and our privilege that we reach the goal of experiencing a higher life in Him.

The goal, according to Paul, is having the heart and mind which is guarded by the peace of God in Christ Jesus. This is fundamental to scriptural holiness.

How does Paul say we walk this path?

First, he urges us to “not be anxious about anything” (v. 6a).

Second, in order to live worry free, we need to be focused, prayerful, and thankful. The key word here is thankful. What do you do when anxiety strikes?  Does it overwhelm you?  How do you respond?  Paul encourages us to ask for God’s will with “thanksgiving.”

Finally, God will grant His peace in our hearts and minds. This is good news for us as His children. The result of a devoted, prayerful life with thanksgiving will be that “the peace promised here is far more than an absence of conflict. Rather, it is a total well–being, and it comes from God-once again, to those who are in Christ Jesus and who share His attitude, so that His ‘heart and mind’ become theirs,” emphasizes one commentary.

Like those monks, we are in partnership with God to build a sacred space on bare ground. Instead of monasteries, we are to build lives. In life, there are days full of inspiration and hope and there are other days full of anxiety and burden.

However, no matter what the days hold, we have a sacred task to accomplish with God. He is calling us to a higher life. Our goal is to have the heart and mind that is in Christ who is the source of true peace.

Without a doubt, this is the God–given expectation and privilege every Christian must seek and experience. God knows our desires for Him and our daily thirst for peace.

It is my hope and prayer that, while we are serving God through the ministry of The Salvation Army, we will allow the Lord to continually help and guide us. In our daily walk with Christ, may we pursue the golden path to the higher life in God.  Let us follow Paul’s example and enjoy the peace of God, which “transcends all understanding (v. 7).”

—Major Young Sung Kim is the
Territorial Ambassador for Holiness

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