Monday, October 23, 2017

God's Work

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

God is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 119:57–64; Ezekiel 27:12–28:10; James 5:13–20

I was part of a small group conversation recently about "God's work" of developing Christian maturity. Being made in the image of God, but also shaped by forces of self-preservation and human limitations, we are all "works in progress." We know that growing toward the image of Christ is our goal and destination, but we take long, circuitous paths that may or may not be clearly leading in that direction.

One interesting point of the conversation, which comes up again in today's scriptures, is God's role in this work, vs. our human role. How much of the process is God? How much is us? What is our responsibility? Where are the limits of our abilities?

The simple answer to "Is it God's work, or ours?" is Yes. It's both! And we know that God's work comes first, and does the far greater part. God takes the initiative to reach out to us, while we still are sinners, and it is completely by God's grace that we come to know anything about God or have any power to respond in faith. God's Holy Spirit inspires and directs our sanctification, the process of becoming more the holy people we are called to be. So in that sense, it's possible to say that it's all God's work.

Yet there is also clearly a sense where God's initiative of love and grace and sanctification call for human work as well. We could say this is an echo of the voice of God in our lives. Made in God's image, we in our very selves are awakened, enlivened, and empowered to imitate the moves of God that we see in Father, Son, and Spirit. We become disciples, followers, who learn to do what our teacher does. We are more than animated objects or robots; God honors us with some ability to choose whether to abide in God's abundant life and flourish, or chase after our own false gods and suffer the consequences, or something in between. As our spirits exist within God's greater Spirit, so our work influences the current within God's greater work.

Loving God, help us to embrace your work in our life, and let it lead us to our own work for you. Guide us, give us enough wisdom and strength and love to follow where you lead. And help us to become the people you created us to be.

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