Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Source of Life"

That's the title of a wonderful post by Patrick Oden. Some of what he says:
Sin is an orientation, and as such it may include the list of usual vices but also includes anything that becomes, for us, a distracting source of our identity. Indeed, I think that it is often more dangerous to be caught up in the socially acceptable distractions. Being approved by the world means we are not constantly reminded of our need for grace, for redemption, for renewal. We strive and strive, doing ‘good’ works, but miss the mark because we are not finding our life in God...

...Holiness is an orientation. It is an embrace of the source of life who brings us new life, and brings us to the place we truly are most alive. In turning to God, in orienting ourselves to God and letting everything else fall into place around this orientation, we do not lose the created things or the joy or the hope or the freedom.
Biblical Christianity is not a religion, per se; it's a relationship of trust with the God we cannot see. Something of Him and His nature may be seen by us in God's people, the Church...or in a breathtaking sunset...or in service rendered in Christ's Name.

But, as the voice of God the Father taught Peter when Peter sought to build booths memorializing Jesus, Moses, and Elijah at the transfiguration, faith isn't about experiences, moments, or human works, however pious or lauded by others. "This is My Son, My Chosen," the voice said, "Listen to Him!" (Luke 9:28-36)

In our cluttered lives, it becomes difficult to remember that to have life, Jesus Christ is all we need.

This was the lesson Jesus taught His friend, Martha, on a day when He and His disciples visited her and her sister Mary. Martha, you'll remember, worked to do the right thing, treating the guests with hospitality.

The Gospel of Luke which describes this incident, says that Martha was "distracted." Mary, her sister, by contrast, sat at Jesus' feet and listened to Him. Martha got upset and asked the Lord to tell her sister to get busy. She seems within her rights, I suppose. But Jesus tells her:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
There are lots of things we can do in life that seem like the right things to do and that the world will commend us for doing. But unless our aim in them is to follow Christ, to "listen" to Him by paying heed to His will for us, to heed His call to be human "beings" more than human "doings," the life of God given by Christ is not in us.

God gives life through Jesus Christ. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," Jesus says. "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

We must never allow our involvement in "good" things, whether it's regular worship, Bible study, prayer, service to others, or family time, to delude us that these things, in themselves, bring life. Only Jesus Christ brings life. Only Jesus Christ is life.

The call of Christian is to give up anything that we use to define ourselves and to give us life, other than Jesus Christ. All other ways are dead-ends. Only Christ gives life. Our surrender, imperfect and halting though it inevitably is, happens in a daily process the New Testament calls discipleship.

Read Patrick's entire post.

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