Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unto the Lord

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

Colossians 3:23-24

In the hard cover edition of Letters to a Samuel Generation, I included an anonymous poem called "Commonplace" which reads,

"A commonplace life," we say, and we sigh,
But why should we sigh as we say?
The commonplace sun in the commonplace sky
Makes up the commonplace day.

It goes on, but that's all I can remember off the top of my head. I included it in Letters because I so often have a hard time believing that "commonplace" is good enough for me, or for God--that serving God does not necessarily mean single-handedly saving the world.

The verse in Colossians above is a smack in the head for me because of the first word--"whatsoever." It doesn't say to do missions heartily, or teach Sunday school with all your heart, or be Mother Teresa because you are the servant of Christ. No, it tells us to do "whatsoever ye do" heartily, as unto God, because in reality you are the servants of the Lord Christ, and all your work is measured as work commissioned, directed, and rewarded by Him.

Friday, July 13, 2007

transformed by what we love

My cousin recently lent me The Liberty of Obedience by Elisabeth Elliot. I finally got a chance to read it yesterday. Recently I've been trying to find God's will on a difficult subject, and this quote from Elisabeth reminds me of why such struggles are necessary--not only to discover the truth, but also to grow us as Christians.

Why did He not summarize all the rules in one book, and all the basic doctrines in another? He could have eliminated the loopholes, prevented all the schisms over morality and false teaching that have plagued His Church for two thousand years. Think of the squabbling and perplexity we would have been spared. And think of the crop of dwarfs He would have reared!

He did not spare us. He wants us to reach maturity. He has so arranged things that if we are to go beyond the "milk diet" we shall be forced to think. We must train our faculties by practice to distinguish between good and evil. We are fond of quoting Romans 8:28. But this verse is nearly meaningless without its following verse, in which lies another definition of maturity, "to be shaped to the likeness of his son" (NEB). Unless we see this as the true "good" referred to in verse 28, we shall wonder how Paul could possibly have been so naive. We shall be forced to regard him--perhaps with affection and certainly with pity--as a misguided Pollyanna, trying to prove to himself that there is always something to be glad about, and shutting his eyes to the sad and the bad. But, given the definition of verse 29, we see that all our spiritual education is directed toward God's idea of good, this "conformity to Christ."

... This was Paul's personal goal, though he stated it even more comprehensively, "to know him." For to know Christ is to be made like Him. It is in beholding the image that we are changed into it, transformed by what we love.

Elisabeth wrote this book when her life among the Auca tribe in Ecuador forced her to reexamine some of her cultural presuppositions about what it means to be righteous. It's challenging; a brief but worthy read. Her thoughts on the true meaning of worldliness were particularly interesting.

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