I have no problem speaking about New Obedience. I have no problem talking about Vocation - I actually love talking about Vocation (because it speaks about our actions not trying to find some abstract idea of "holy" but in the concrete, directly in terms of what tasks God Himself has laid out before us). These are all good things - they are in fact properly and best understood as gifts from God to us (rather than "what we do for Jesus") -- and is not part of our job as Christians to proclaim the great things He has done, the great gifts He has given? The first article and daily bread is great!
But here's what I have very, very little time for.
Troublers of conscience.
Doubt about if what we are doing is good enough.
Guilt induced reflection.
You know why?
Let's do a little experiment with John 20. The first Sunday after Easter, our reading is John 20:19-31. Our Risen Lord, in 10 sentences says the word "Peace" 3 times. As in, three of the whole sentences are "Peace be with you."
Think about that rhetorically for a moment. If you start each idea with a theme, if you repeat it multiple times - it's the point of everything. As an example, what does our good Roman Catholic friend Coach Herm Edwards thinks the point of a football game is?
Did that leave any doubt? You play to win the game.
Now, here we have Christ, and He is resurrected. It is finished. He has won for us salvation, and what does He say? Peace be with you. Shalom. Peace. It's all right, it's all good, I have fixed things. Peace be with you. In fact, you are going to be peacemakers - you are going to be going out and forgiving sins (and if you have to retain, well, retain, but even then the whole point is hopefully they will repent).
Oh, and again, Peace be with you. Thomas, you doubt? Hey - believe. Peace.
This is what Christ is about, this is what the Church is about - shoot, we are in Advent, we know what is coming Christmas Eve. Peace, Goodwill to man!
So, here's my problem. Sure, ponder vocation, ponder obedience, ponder exhortation -- but how are you viewing this? From a standpoint of peace? From the viewpoint of peace? Or are you viewing it with fear? Are you worried that not enough X is happening, that there's not enough virtue to stop moral decay, that Christians are becoming too lazy and terrible result Y is going to happen, have you not seen enough goodness or fruit Z in your folks.
Peace be with you. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
We have the promise of peace from our Lord. Now, who does your dis-peace come from? Who would be the one troubling you, making you worried... accusing you? Who makes you think, "Peace, ain't nobody got time for that! We gots ta do sommting ourselfs!
No. Christ Jesus has said it. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Sins are forgiven, really they are - be about the business of forgiving them. Peace be with you.
Otherwise, we just run around with our heads cut off thinking we ain't got time for peace, that there's too much *we* need to do. We become to opposite of the OT false prophets. They cried peace, peace when there was no peace. Are we to forsake declaring peace when the very Price of Peace, risen from the tomb, has declared Peace?
You Preach to declare the Peace!
(and just because -- this happened in Oklahoma )