Today, we are having a cleaning day at the Church. At first, it was being met with much trepidation, because no one could remember precisely who suggested the cleaning day or what specifically we were supposed to do at this cleaning day. And there was concern, who is going to be in charge, I don't want to tell people what to do, oh no, is nothing doing to get done?
It's an hour later. Cleaning is going wondrously. Some had wanted me to tell people what to do - I begged off. Now things are being cleaned that I would have never thought of. Why are these things being cleaned? Not because I guided them to these things, but simply because in their going around, people saw things to clean.
This is why I think the 3rd Use of the Law is highly, highly over-rated.
Do I need to tell people what to clean? Well, I suggested that it would be good to polish the pews - that is something that stood out as a good thing to me. And the pews will get cleaned -- but my encouragement to clean the pews isn't the fullness of cleaning, it doesn't provide a full framework for how cleaning goes. And I didn't need to provide the people here a full framework - they understood they were here to clean, and things are being cleaned.
Oh, I suppose I give a little guidance. One lady hit the Sacristy. Oh, I'll put that thing back here, and that there - oh, and if you would, leave those there (my sermons from the year, which I will file in 9 days - the Monday after the Last Sunday - it's a quirk of mine - helps me shift to Advent. Don't ask). But I didn't need to say, "This is what you need to do and how you need to do it" -- they know and they work.
This is how it is with the Christian life. We don't need to give people 8 principals for this, or micromanaging guidelines for that - we don't need to set up fences so they know how to approach every single issue. They are Christians. Teach them to think like Christians - to be focused on love, care, service, forgiveness. Then you know what? They will go find ways to show love, care, service, and forgiveness that you couldn't have anticipated.
In fact, if you try to teach them what being a real Christian is - you're really only teaching them what "you" are - teaching them to be like you - rather than teaching them to walk around in the good works that God has made them to walk in.
Let people go to work. If something is ill - cut that off. If there is a question about a specific thing - advise. But let people live - and quit worrying so much. If they are living horribly - preach stern Law - 2nd usage. Slay their bad habits. Then preach Christ, and in humility let Christ give them life as He sees fit.
The Cleaning is getting done. The Good Works God wills will get done. And not because I am so smart and wondrous that I can tell people what they need to do.