Works in progress

This morning I read
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments… (Proverbs 3:1 ESV)
and later heard some worthwhile teaching from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount,
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  (Matthew 7:24-25 ESV)
Along with the obvious and uncomfortable challenge to examine my life as to how I might be more obedient to Christ, there was some comfort.  A reading from Ephesians came up, reminding me that we are not completed, but under continuing construction by Christ:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV)
In that passage, Paul was writing about Christ’s work to build a unified church of Jews and Gentiles.  Peter applies it more broadly to the believer’s life in Christ, including childlike growth in understanding, obedience and fruitful work,
pajut construction
South Sudanese Christians building toward a better future.

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2:1-5 ESV)

Some of us find it easy – too easy – to spot and agonize over our failure to obey the Lord’s teaching.  Others seem impervious to such insight and are the infuriating types who seem to skip toward hell as happy wanderers (LANGUAGE WARNING for this video clip…)

But whether our capacity for honest self-examination is hyper or hypo, we are not the story.  More important is focus on the one who is doing the heavy work,

…believe that God can do far more and don’t turn your attention to whether the ones to whom He grants His favors are good or bad… There is no reason for us to meddle in this matter, but with humility and simplicity of heart we should serve and praise Him for His works and marvels.  (Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle V.1.8)

This includes patience with ourselves.  Just as obedience to Christ means to forgive those who trespass against us and to bless those who curse us, it means to accept and practice the patience by which he is bringing us to see God face to face.

 

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