Thoughts from this morning’s Daily Office readings:
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” | Psalm 26:3
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” | Psalm 36:9
“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” | Psalm 28:9
The gospel in its essence, in what it calls for, is not doing something for God like busying ourselves with religious works to add to our resume (an impossible supposition). But of first importance, the gospel, the good news of the kingdom, is first calling us simply to come with the empty hands of faith to rest in His covenantal faithfulness toward us (“I walk in your faithfulness”), not our own, because if we’ re honest, we’re not faithful. Thankfully He was in our place. It’s not about “discovering the light within yourself” as your source of energy and life, but rather the reverse: all that is within is darkness because of our sin blinding us from the truth: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19). Therefore only, “In your light do we see light.” In the Person and work of Christ, revealing the Father to us by His perfect words and deeds, life, death and resurrection for us, He raised us from death and darkness in order to be resurrected to new life and light forever.
But it is a new life that starts now by that same internal work of God’s grace that first regenerated us and is continuing to do so, to produce fruit unto eternal life. The new creation life breaking into the old.
We now perform deeds and work for the good of society out of the overflow of our hearts filled with the grace of God, for the sake of bringing the gospel to the nations, including ours, and tangibly helping those in need. This means being a light to those in darkness because of the light shone into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This includes working for the common good, seeking justice (in all the forms that takes), seeing our work as something given as a gift by God to us and for us for the good of our neighbors, not merely for our consumerist pleasures. “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37, the Good Samaritan is a good starting point to see this). It starts with our family, our neighbors next door, our church family, our friends, our enemies, our co-workers, those in traffic, and working out from there, including the stranger behind the counter assisting us in customer service at Home Depot after they’ve messed up your order for the third time, even though we might be “owed” what we paid for. It’s about laying down our rights for the sake of others.
We’re a part of the kingdom work of renewal, bringing the light of the gospel in word (gospel proclamation) and in deed (gospel demonstration) because of the renewal at work within us. That is accomplished by both the proclamation of the Word in church, lectures, sermons, Bible studies and so forth. But as a part of that is the call to work for the good of our neighbor in hospitality and service and possessing an openness to those who aren’t like us racially, socio-economically, and all the other ways, and not being so consumed with our own lives and pleasure that we don’t give space for “interruptions” in life (those in need). It’s too easy to walk the other way.
Lord have mercy on us to live this way, because so often we (I!) don’t. “Thankul for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.” | J. Gresham Machen
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” | 1 Peter 2:9-10
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” | 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
As Jesus said to so many in His ministry: “Now go and do likewise.” Always true, but it’s especially so in these days of unrest, division and pandemic in society. Let’s bear with one another for the sake of Christ and His Gospel.