Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)
TITLE: Can You Do It Now?
By L.M. Lee
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“We’ll work; we’ll work ‘til Jesus’ comes…”
“Let us labor for the Master from the dawn ‘til setting sun…”
As a child, our congregation would rock the rafters with these songs imploring the faithful to fulfill their duty to the Great Commission. Fired up with evangelical zeal and a healthy dose of condemnation the troops rallied. We would storm our neighborhoods with tracts alerting the lost of their perilous final destination.
It usually worked. For the following month there would be a sharp incline in church attendance. Gradually the blazing fire simmered down to a few glowing ambers. A year would pass. A new evangelist would stoke the coals and once again the people of God would charge the gates of hell’s prisons freeing the lost from Satan’s clutches. It was our work!
As a teenager, our church, in harmony with the pop psychology of the day, began to focus on a new type of work. It was the work of the inner man. No longer were we to intrude into other’s personal spiritual condition. We were to concentrate our efforts on working out our own salvation. Not just with fear and trembling, but with Jung, Freud and discover that if I’m okay, gosh darn it, you must be too!
The results of blending of secular and spiritual semantics resulted in the decline of church attendance. Why get up on Sunday morning? Sleep in! I could get the same advice on an analyst’s couch for a hefty fee. And people say the church is just after your money! Ever thought tithing might be cheaper?
But I digress.
Adulthood brought me full circle. When I had to make the traditional choices for my own children, I found myself drawn back to my roots. Working faithfully in the Lord’s harvest seemed to be the answer. Balancing the exterior labor to recruit the lost with deep introspection into my character felt like the right thing.
Slowly I began to burn out. A nagging feeling of defeat loomed over my soul. No matter how hard I worked, there was no joy in the labor. It was never enough. There was always more that needed to be done.
Finally, exhausted from the effort, I took a sabbatical. God obviously knew what He was doing when He created the Sabbath!
Alone, searching the scriptures I tripped over a verse I had probably skimmed hundreds of times. There in black and red it said, “Jesus answered, ‘"The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."’ (John 6:29 NIV).
I read it again…the work of God. This was an entirely new perspective. God saw the “act of believing” as work. How silly, I thought, how can believing be work? Then I began to think back over my spiritual journey. It had been extremely hard work to believe God at times. And in Hebrews I had read that without faith it was impossible to please God.
The two most important things I had been combating to achieve, faithful service and personal integrity, were tied up in a concept I had never entertained. Knocked off my spiritual feet, flat on my butt, I pondered the implications.
I was obsessed. I discussed the ideas with others I respected. Read spiritual giants’ thoughts on the subject. I prayed intensely for understanding.
One morning, in the shower, as God so often does, He intruded. A glorious moment of revelation came! I think it has something to do with the steam parting and being clean all at the same time.
It wasn’t that one view of work was wrong; I just had the cart before the horse.
To dare to step out in faith and share my faith with another is work. To courageously accept that God is dealing with my imperfects is work - a HUGE work!
It is all intertwined. How could I have missed it? But I did...oh well...at least now I can relax in the Lotus position and chant…
“We are His workmanship…”
“I sing for joy at the works of Your hands…”
“He, Who began a good work in you…”
Well, I don’t want to become too culturally irrelevant!
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