Monday, July 5, 2010

Faith, Works, and Are

Just spent some time reflecting on the whole salt and light passage in Matthew. The one word that captures my attention every time I do is the word "are." Jesus doesn't say we should "become" salt and light, that we should work on "brighter" and "saltier." He just says, "You ARE already salt and light."

Have you ever heard it said, "We are human BEings, not human DOings"? How about this one, "God is more concerned about WHO you are than about WHAT you do"? That sounds good. After all, isn't Christianity an inside-out job? I mean, Jesus criticized those who thought following God was about looking good rather than about having a right heart. On the other hand, there's that whole "faith without works is dead" thing that His brother James wrote about. So, what gives? Am I supposed to just focus on BEing or should I focus on DOing?

It has to be simpler, much less esoteric, and much less white-washed-tomb-religion than most of us make it out to be. Once you believe, you are born again. You are who you are by faith in Christ. Now, if you don't focus on renewing your mind like Paul wrote in Romans 12, and you don't add the characteristics of Jesus to your life like Peter wrote in his second epistle, then you will shrivel and fail as a Chrisitan. On the other side, if you spend your life focused on becoming a better you, you won't actually do many of the works you are supposed to do so others "may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Mt.5:16) You'll just spend your life chasing your own tail.

Jesus didn't call us to a philosphy. That's internal medicine. And, He didn't call us to a life of good works. That's secular humanitarianism, join the Peace Corps and save the world stuff. He invited us to follow Him. Follow Him and you'll learn Him, and you'll learn you're not Him, and you'll change - internally. Follow Him and the works He did you will do, and even greater works than these.

Internal transformation and doing good works are not the opposite sides of the same coin. They are just equal parts of following Jesus. Make this life anything other than following Him and stay confused and mostly frustrated with life.