Risen servants of Jesus

Ephesians 2:1-10

What you are becoming can be more important than what you are doing. Faith in the risen Savior is not about tasks. Our call to discipleship isn’t about getting credit for the religious things we do. Filling our calendars with more activities does not equate faithfulness. It may even be getting in the way. 

What matters more is what fruit the Holy Spirit is producing within our hearts. Are we becoming more loving? More patient? Is our trust in Jesus growing? More to the point, is our life reflecting Jesus more today than it was before?

At the same time, what you are doing is fruit of what you’re becoming. I could tell you I’m becoming more patient. If I’m yelling at everyone at the most minor inconveniences, you’d suspect otherwise. Or if I preach on the importance of caring for the poor, but ignore anyone that comes to me for help, what would you think?

So, what we do as we are becoming what we are is important. Ephesians 2 would call what we do “good works.” And not just any good works. The good works “God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 

Our lives become echoes of the incarnation of Jesus as we set to do what God has prepared. I would say you don’t have to, necessarily, do more. Following God’s grace, you do more that’s meaningful. 

It’s quality vs. quantity. Grace vs. quota.

The good works become our way of living. And, to be sure, what we do is a response to what we learned God has done.

With no help from us, God saved us and raised us with Christ. We were dead, doing dead-people things, but God raised us with Christ. The dead-people things stay in the grave as we learn to be alive together with Christ. Now, we are risen servants of Jesus. 

Stay blessed…john

Partners in the blessing

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

I assume most of us consider the gospel to be a blessing.

The good news of Jesus Christ has saved us, set us free and redeemed us. There is rich language we use when we talk about the gospel’s work. It all incorporates how we experience the presence of God. So, considering God’s willingness to offer the gospel to us, of course we are blessed. We have received a most gracious gift.

The blessing, then, is what we receive. That idea is easy for us to consider. For example, we accept a new job as a blessing. A gift from a friend is a blessing. Having the opportunity to do something you love counts as a blessing.

Of course, we do receive more and more blessings. But we also take part in them.

More specifically, considering the gift of the gospel, we share in its blessing. The apostle Paul reminds us of this. His ministry mindset is to be a “slave to all” (1 Corinthians 9:19). That is, to share the gospel, he has become all things to all people. To do so requires to let go of your ego. You have to put behind some of your assumptions about what is proper or even ideal. You might even be uncomfortable at times.

Sometimes Christians carry the notion that we meet people where they are to bring them up where we are. That’s pretty presumptuous. We meet people where they are to share what we have learned about the goodness of God. The blessing is not that they start going to your church or start singing your songs. The blessing is the gospel has shown one more person the great love of God.

Now, there are many Christians, many churches that don’t even meet people. Do they know they’re missing half the blessing of the gospel? Paul says, “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:23). Other translations draw our attention to the partnership language Paul understood. and used.

That part of the blessing of the gospel is our willingness to join its mission. Not just to receive it for our benefit. Not just to talk about it. But to submit our lives to its purpose. We are partners with God, and that is part of the blessing!

Stay blessed…john