Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An addendum to Good Works

Rebellious wives and that crazy Pastor Hall both left comments on my previous post dealing with not being comfortable with my "Good works happen" sort of approach. There are times when good works don't flow. . . we are encouraged over and over to work at things. How does this balance with my "good works happen" analogy?

Like this.

Being an athlete requires a lot of hard work (and this is an apt analogy - do you not know that in a race only one wins the prize. . . unless you are playing youth soccer and get a trophy for finishing dead last. . . oh, and that last part wasn't actually Paul, that was me). Let's take being a baseball player - one that I am familiar with. You need practice. You need to do your work in the batting cage, you need your fielding drills. You need to do some paused simulations - okay, there's a runner on second - if the ball is hit to you, where do you throw the ball. You practice hard.

But when the game comes, when the ball is hit - you aren't thinking anymore. . . when the pitch comes at you are aren't thinking about swing mechanics - you simply do it.

The Christian life is one of training - and the training is a matter of preparation, where in thought and prayer and mediation we understand and learn more and more what we ought to do - we focus and rejoice in the forgiveness God has given us. And then we live our lives.

And then we pause, and take stock - have we been doing what we ought? We examine ourselves - are there places I have been weak? We repent, we struggle - and then we go forth and live.

The struggle regarding good works isn't in the doing of them per se - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Rather this - the hard part is admitting that you must continually be beating down your sinful flesh - that you will have always more and more to repent, that there will always be more to see.

Brett Farve retired from football. Why? Games were easy - it was the practice that got to him. As Christians, we don't have that option, we always must practice - and while our practice will never make us perfect - it flows from the Words of Christ Jesus, who is the author and perfector of our faith.

Good works are easy. Good works are a joy - when they happen. It's repenting and beating down the sinful flesh that is hard.


Pastor D said...

Eric, I like your analogy. May I use it in confirmation class this fall? The kids will "get it" Keep up the good work!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

No. . . you can't! Just like I can never use the phrase "and you can take it to the bank" in a sermon, like you did when I was young.

Of course you may. Enjoy the Indiana Summer.