Sunday, July 29, 2012

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Get a Grip on God's Grace, Part 4: Works of Service

Location: Bagram Airfield, Bagram, Afghanistan
Previous installment:  Part 3: Worship
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I stated in my previous post that worship is at core of our purpose:  We are made to glorify our Creator, King and Savior. Worship lies at the center of our very reason for being.  Good works lie directly beside worship at that core, as is made clear by Paul's admonition above.  While the previous verses make it clear that our works do not save us, it is equally plain that our natural response to God's grace is to get to work for our Savior!  He's prepared works in advance for us to accomplish in His name and by His strength, so that we glorify God as much by our works as by our worship.  In fact, Paul also makes it clear that devoting our bodies to His work constitutes a vital form of worship:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
Returning to the account of King Josiah which has served to tie this series together, we notice that it was Josiah's zealous work for God that opened the door to a deeper devotion and obedience:
Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had cleansed the land and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God ... While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. (2 Chronicles 34:8,14)
King Josiah's obedience in carrying the work of cleansing the land and the temple opened the door to increased blessing ... in this case, the rediscovery of the Law of God.  The neglect of this work by his father and grandfather had resulted in God's Word being lost from the life of God's people.  Yet obedience begat blessing, and the Word was rediscovered by the faithful laborer Josiah.  Thus does each element of the faithful life support the others.  Getting a grip takes all five fingers!

I can recall periods of my Christian walk in which I have said to myself, "I need a break.  I'm going to sit in the back pews for a while."  I justified this laziness (for that is what it was) by telling myself I needed to sit back and "learn".  This would seem like wisdom, but it is in fact a lot like saying, "I need to stop exercising for a while so I can sit back and eat."  Just as nutrition and exercise are mutually supporting, so personal growth and faithful labor are inseparable in the life of the believer.

In other words, if you are to be a spiritually fit Christian, get off your fanny and get busy on the works God has prepared in advance for you to accomplish!  What works are those?  Please, take it from me, or from your pastor, or from the 10% of those in your church who do 90% of the work:  there is no shortage of work to be done in God's Kingdom, just a shortage of willing and reliable laborers.

"But I don't know what my spiritual gifts are!"  Hint:  You won't find out sitting on your couch.  God will reveal your gifts in the context of your labor.  Obedience is a wonderful teacher.

If you can't find any work to be done, it's probably because you've isolated yourself from your fellow workers in the Body of Christ.  I'm talking about the church, which I will discuss in the next and final installment of this series.

Next installment:  Part 5: The People of God

2 comments:

  1. "This would seem like wisdom, but it is in fact a lot like saying I need to stop exercising for a while so I can sit back and eat." That was an eye opening remark. Seems this column was written just for me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hints:

    Something to forget: Forget your limitations!!! If you are waiting to be perfect, you can wait until you die.

    Something to remember: We are here to do His work. Nothing is too little or too big.

    ReplyDelete

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