[box type="info" border="full"]This is a sermon reflection from our current sermon series: "Clearly Seen". You can listen to the sermon, "Grace, Faith, & Work", by clicking here. [/box]I love the topic of work... and I hate the topic. I bet this is true for most of us.Yesterday, pastor Jim spoke on how the gospel relates to our faith and works - kinda picking up where Dave left off from our last sermon on "Growing Up In Our Faith". A key scripture on this topic is Ephesians 2:8-10, and we drew most of our insights from this range of verses.After listing out a few fundamentals truths for followers of Christ...
7 fundamental truths for the followers of Christ
1. you are loved by God2. you are forgiven in Christ - God transcends time, when he declares us free, we are forever forgiven3. you are free in Christ - we don’t always live like it, but we are. We are free to live and love as we ought.4. we are filled with Christ - Christ and his presence really does live within us5. we have been given life - we have been given a second birth. we share with Christ in a new life.6. we are part of the body of Christ - we are called out, chosen, and part of a large group that makes one body. Christ lives in us and connects us as one.7. this life we live is forever - this life we share transcends time since it is Christ in us, and his life that we share. it’s more than we could ever ask for or dream of.
...Jim made the point that God is not looking for works from us, he is looking for trust. God's grace is what saves us, but that gift of grace comes only through our trust that it is sufficient. This is a good point to make, because what follows could easily land you in a pit of trouble if you're not careful.
Why I Love The Topic Of Work
The reason it's good to focus on grace first, is because I already have the forgiveness, the life, the freedom, and the eternal safety that comes with being in a relationship with God. Yet then I still turn to this underlying question: Why do I feel so compelled to accomplish things?! Why don't I just sit back and drink tea till I get to heaven?For most of us, there's an itch. Some sort of crazy-from-within that God built into us to want to create, to accomplish, to fix, and ultimately to make better the things around us. This is within us because God is like this and we are made in God's image.As Jim put it: "God doesn't just sit back and have nice thoughts about us." He doesn't sit and journal in a heavenly galactic Starbucks (although you know his is real deal!). He is active and working, at all times, in us, through us, and around us! He never sleeps! (Ps 121:3)He has already prepared good works for us to do (Eph 2:10), and we are made from the beginning with those in mind.I feel that! I feel it every day, all the time, non stop! That resonates with me in an exciting way!
Why I Hate The Topic Of Work
I don't know about you, but that excitement of knowing God has prepared good works, and prepared me for those works, can quickly fade. I don't always even know why...I theorize that if this world were perfect, as God had created it and as he'll re-create it, the feelings for accomplishment wouldn't be there in the same way.I think we'd still want to create, because like stated, God is that way. Yet while I feel compelled to create things, there's also a burdening feeling of "never enough" that nags at me... often!This is where it gets hard. It feels discouraging. I feel stressed or overwhelmed. I feel I'm under performing or maybe that I'm missing my calling altogether. What if I never do those works that God has prepared for me?!You ever feel that?I often wish that God would just "iron out" some of those works he's prepared me for. I spend a lot of time thinking, "okay am I in the preparing stage, doing stage, or just-plain-missed-it-and-we've-all-moved-on stage?"So this is why it feels so good to dwell on the topic of grace first, but for me it's also so good to dwell on what Jim pointed out towards the end: We are HIS workmanship...
We Are HIS Workmanship
If accomplishing anything were really up to me, I'd be dead already. Seriously. I'd just be worn out, depleted, and have given up long ago. Our rest comes in knowing that we are HIS workmanship. We, and our lives, aren't a product of OUR workmanship.This means when I feel overwhelmed I can actually just relax and say, "Actually God, this is up to you. You're gonna look bad if you don't come through." Ha!Between you and me, I think he likes me allowing him to be the God he says he is in my life. My experience proves this too. He always comes through!Pastor Jim made the point that "Life in the kingdom of God is a dance of learning to trust God more and more."As he pointed out from John 15:5, the longer we walk with him in an ongoing, ever developing union, the more we begin to do HIS works, as HIS workmanship. Our faith is one of DOING WITH GOD.After all, just like what was stated in the list of fundamentals above, we already forever have a secure, freeing life in Christ... HIS life in us!
Thinking Through This As A Church Body
So while we obviously all learn what it is to live Christ's life through ourselves on an individual level, we are also thinking about what it is we are to be DOING WITH GOD as a collective body - as Rock Hill Church.Jim shared the three overarching "works" God has for us:1. Prayer2. Sharing 3. ServingSo as we move forward as an infant church, we are praying that God gives us clarity on how he'd like us to share our lives with the community and, as pastor Jim put it, "Do things that produce blessings for others and that last."
So it'd be great to hear from you now in the comments below:
- What are your reflections and take-aways from the sermon?
- What is God laying on your heart as you pray about the works God has for you and for us as Rock Hill Church?
Photo Credit: shioshvili via Compfight cc