Thursday, June 28, 2012

Work it, Baby!

34 I will bless the Lord at all times;

    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

    and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me

    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,

    and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Ps 34)

It is my fear one could read the last few posts and think I preach a gospel of works.  All my emphasis on action and what we do could be misconstrued.  If Jesus’ had and has his words twisted and confused so easily by so many, I certainly will not be immune.  But let the fault not be one of not having worked hard enough to clear up this issue of works.  Come, there is work to do.

Go to the ant, O sluggard;

    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,

    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer

    and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?

    When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

    and want like an armed man.” (Prov 6)

From the time God put Adam in the Garden he gave him something to do.  Something Adam must obey.  It is fairly obvious God is a God of action and those who follow him must likewise be on the move.  Rest is a gift given in cycles of seven.  Six parts work, one part rest.  Peace is found in our labor.  How can that be?  God is in our labor…
12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,

    for you have indeed done for us all our works.” (Is 26)
If there is one thing God has labored in me and through me to help us see it is this: God is love and love is perfect submission and communion to the other.  The expression, “I don’t know where I stop and you begin,” comes close.  The fact is: there is no stop!  We’re moving towards Him, He’s moving towards us, we are in Him, He is in us!  He is drawing us into His Oneness!  This is what all our action, all our labor, all our works are towards!
         Check it.  From the moment we rise we are doing.  We will be doing something always.  Life is movement.  Life is change.  Life is action.  The work of salvation, the job of redemption, the paying of the debt, It is Finished!  Yes!  Praise God!  Hallelujah!  Glory Be!  Everything necessary has been accomplished.  By Christ’s blood, Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s work, we are saved!  We receive (passive action) this.  We believe (action) this.  We have faith (action with helper) in this.  We share (action) in his glory!  We ARE (state of being, reception of title, state of grace, first non-action) sons and daughters of God!

Alarm clock goes off, new day begins, son and daughter of God rise… What? Do? We? Do? 

See.  Not so easy, is it?  Imagine how the first Jewish converts felt.  Yesterday they had the Law.  Yesterday they knew exactly what was expected of them every minute of every day.  And when they failed, they knew exactly how many sheep, goats, cattle and birds were required to pay the debt.  Today, they wake up free…yippee!  Frolic like ya got no sense!  We’re free!  We’re free!  We’re.. free… to.. do what?  If they sin now, if they fail.. can they fail?  How can we fail if we don’t know what we’re to do?  How can we fail free grace?  How can we fail love?  Should we keep going to work?  Should we keep living with someone who is not free?  No wonder they sold everything and moved into communes together.  No wonder they thought Jesus was coming to get them any day.  Living here in this mess as free people doesn’t make much sense!  Why does God free us, save us, clean us, heal us and then… not take us home?

Because we still have something to do!  God created the earth and everything in it but he did not finish it…on purpose!  He invites us into His work to work alongside Him.  God comes and initiates His kingdom and he does not finish it on purpose!  He invites us to work towards its completion alongside him!  By His love, He makes us His people, then He invites us into love by submitting our wills to His and obeying His commands.  Love God with all your heart, mind and strength.  Love each other as He has loved us.  And how did He love us?  By total submission to the Father and becoming totally servile to us!  14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2)  Saint Jimmy is calling us out!   Works do not save, works are evidence we HAVE been saved!  Evidence the Spirit is in us!  Evidence we are seeking God’s face, radiating and reflecting His Light!  We seek someone to love because we love God who loves us and as Jesus told us, “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matt 25)  In Luke 7 Jesus said the sinful woman loved much because she was forgiven much… or wait, did he say, she loves much so she is forgiven much?  It can be translated either way.  Is this on purpose?  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  God is frequently not one or the other; He’s simultaneously both as you would assume an omnipresent, omnipotent God would be.  If Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God in Heaven and the Spirit is in us and they are in perfect communion then we are already being drawn into this.  We won’t be able to stop it!  Why would we want to?

So the alarm clock goes off and son and daughter of God’s feet hit our fuzzy, bunny slippers.  We cock our heads and listen.  We place our hands on our chests.  Spirit?  Jesus?  You in there?   O, he’s in there, you may not feel Him flowing through you, Obi Wan, but He’s there.  Acknowledge it!  Own it!  I’m told feeling follows action.  So say to Him, ““Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” (1Sam 14)
33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mark 3)

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