Monday, February 1, 2016

How We Choose

Yesterday I was sitting on my pastor's chair in second service, reflecting about the message I was about to preach.  Part of that message was about John's (in Revelation) relentless reminder that life is a choice to live in either Fallen Babylon or New Jerusalem, the "end" destination of the Revelation.  There are constant references to "those that belong to this world" and those "who worship the lamb who was slain."  So ... how do we choose ... how are we aligned with either group?

In modern theology that question might be answered by three other questions.  Are we what we believe?  ... Are we what we do? ... or (this is scary) Do we DO what we BELIEVE?

There are lots of passages about how our belief/non-belief in Jesus will either land us in eternal life or send us to eternal separation from God.  Our society translates that word "believe" as a head-related thing.  We feel God's call and pull, we stroll forward to the altar and we profess our belief.  Then most of us carry on with life primarily unchanged.  It is like growing a year older. You feel no different on your 60th birthday than you did the day before, but somehow people view you differently.  Belief is critical, but I wonder if we have diluted the Biblical meaning of that word.

There are also passages about doing.  I remember Jesus said that Jesus' brothers and sisters were the ones that DID His will.  There is also the "Great Requirement" in Micah that tells us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly  with our God.  Doing is important, but we cannot hang our hats on works-righteousness.  John Wesley tried that and sailed from America to London as lost as the worst sinner on the boat.  What was he missing?

I think Wesley was missing the true meaning of James 2:18.  James discusses faith and works and ends the thought with "Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith BY my works."  James was saying that faith that isn't lived-out isn't faith at all.  James is observing that we DO what we BELIEVE.  Look at our bank accounts.  Do they reflect the love for the Church to which Jesus called us?  Look at our daily schedules.  Do they reflect a devotion to God or to something else?  Is our faith a long list of cliches' or is it our witness actively applied through actions, investments, time, touches, tears and risky love?

In John's Revelation the faithful suffer (following their Master) because their witness is overt and obvious ... not head-knowledge that is ready to flow off the tip of our tongue but heart-knowledge that moves us (following Jesus) to compassion.  Truly, we DO what WE believe! Randy

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