Monday, March 11, 2013

Causes or Effects

So, as a theologian, what's your focus?  Are you more focused on the causes or the effects - what comes before or what comes after the therefore?

Consider yesterday's collect: "Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning, and although we deserve only punishment, You recieve us as Your children and provide for all of our needs of body and soul.  Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen."

That collect really has two parts.  There is the first - that though we are sinners who deserve nothing, we have daily recieved mercy and are provided for completely by God.  There is the second - a request for aid to give thanks and serve.

What's the more important part?

See, this is why I end up getting a little nervous and antsy about the finger waggers, the ones who say "we need to talk more about our obedience and what we do."  That's not the most important part.  You want me to talk about what I do?  Really?  Well, I've just confessed that I deserve nothing but punishment because of what I do.

Of course, it goes deeper than that.  "Grant that we..."  That obedience of mine you want me to focus on, that thankfulness you tell me I need to do... that's not mine either.  "GRANT".  It's God's own obedience, His own thankfulness granted to me, given to me - that which He causes to well up in me.

Where is your focus?  Is your focus upon the cause of every good thing, even the good things that I do, or are you sitting, looking at effects with a fine tooth comb, especially the effects in your neighbors' life and seeing if they measure up to what you think they ought to be?  Why would you not be looking at Christ instead?

I deserve nothing but punishment.  Thanks be to God that He sent Christ Jesus to take my punishment instead, and rather gives me all that is Christ's to be my own!

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