Yearning To Live God’s Love
This is part of an ongoing series on the Holy Spirit section of the PC(USA) Brief Statement of Faith, Intro found here
- In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing: here
- To witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior: here
- To unmask idolatries in Church and culture: here and here
- To hear the voices of peoples long silenced: here
- To work with others for justice, freedom, and peace: here
- In gratitude to God: here
- Empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives: see below
- Even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives
As we break this section down I will skip the “empowered by the Spirit… live holy and joyful lives” parts. Not because they aren’t important, but because I hope that I covered them last time in the “in gratitude to God” reflection (we could always say more but I’m trying for a series of reflections and not a whole book!). So without further ado:
I’m a big Yoda fan. I even have an authenticated life-size Yoda statue (which is a lot easier than the same for Chewbacca). I am as quick as any to quip, “Do or do not, there is no try.” But… do I really think that is true? Certainly there places in scripture (and our faith communities) where we draw lines in the sand and make it clear you either do this and you are one of us, or you do not – and you are not. But to say do or do not is to presume that the task is do-able, and that we are absolutely clear what the task is. And so I ask: is the way of Jesus something we can do? Is it helpful to say we will either or not do what Jesus asks of us? Or do we, rather, try. We try to serve Christ in all we do… or maybe to say that in a slightly stronger way. We strive. We yearn. Our bodies lean in to the way of Christ. We crave to live as Christ would have us. And yet we know we will not perfectly do it. We will not achieve it. We will not be “the way of Jesus” we will be the best approximation of that way that we can muster. In this word, strive, we combine accountability and affirmation, confession and pardon, aspiration and settledness, prophetic calling and gracious inclusion, the way we do not and the way we do.
We strive. Not “I try” but “we strive.” It’s stronger than me alone or simply a tacit veneer of hope that something like Jesus will happen in me. We strive acknowledges the claim Christ’s way has on all that we are, while granting us grace to fall short. When we “do not” it does not mean that Christ is not still at work in us and through us. It means that while we set out to live a life that is beyond our ability Christ delights in our efforts no matter how short we come of whatever goal we aspired to live. As Thomas Mertonsaid, “the desire to please God is in fact pleasing to God.” (loose quote, full quote footnoted below).
I want to say one and only one thing. I am convinced that scripture is clear (or as clear as it ever is), if you wish to serve God (through the way of Christ) than to do that we must serve each other. We love God by loving our neighbors. We serve Christ by living in service to the whole community of God’s creation
What a powerful two words: daily tasks. We don’t serve God by going to church, by worshiping, by being in Sunday school or a mid-week Bible Study, by going on a mission trip, or…. whatever. We serve Christ in our daily tasks. All that stuff we just named that sounds like the programmatic life of the Church – that’s all just practice. It’s like a homework assignment of writing out spelling words. But we do not write out spelling words for the sake of busy work. We do it to make them a part of who we are so that when we go to use those words we can do so naturally, instinctively, and without thought. They become a part of us for their use in our daily tasks. We mistake Church as an end (a goal) in itself far too often. It is simply meant to be a community of formation for the REAL TASK. Living in service to Christ in our daily tasks. How are you serving Christ at school? At work? At play? At home? On the road to these places? At the waiting room for a Dr.’s appointment?
Let us rephrase that question in light of our whole reflection: how are you striving to love the people you encounter each day?
This is what we commit our lives to look like: God’s love being poured out in chance and intentional encounters every day of our life. All the other things we do in God’s name? They live in service to that goal and not the other way around. The goal is to live the love of God and the way of Christ towards our neighbors in our daily tasks, and whatever it takes to keep us directed toward that goal… is church (intentional community of faith). And anything else? Is probably either a distraction or directly counter to who we believe ourselves to be called to be.
Empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives.
Thanks be to God.
This prayer is a great gift, these words sit – among others – above my desk as a constant reminder:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” -Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
Posted on September 16, 2014, in Brief Statement of Faith, Church-ology and tagged brief statement of faith, brokenness, calling, community, confession, faith formation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.