From the Pastor’s Desk- November 2018

The Religion of “Do” Versus The Religion of “Done”

Essentially all religion in the world falls into one of two camps.  The first is a religion of the law, of doing.  For its adherents there are lists of things for one to do and not do in order to live in a right relationship with God, be saved and live eternally.  Human reason then suggests if you do well you will get rewarded.  Don’t do well and you get
punished.

The other is the religion of justification by faith, or for the sake of comparison, not of “doing” but of “done.”  In it everything that is necessary for a person to be in a right relationship with God, be saved and live eternally has already been accomplished and the One who did the doing was God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ.  What He has done is then given as a gift to those who trust in Him.

The religion of justification by faith turns human reason upside down.  Sinners are right in the sight of God.  Those who die, live.  Those who suffer are lifted up.  Those who are persecuted are blessed.  Those who are wicked are acquitted.  All of this is due to the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, for the sins of the world on the cross of Calvary.  All of it is given at His expense to those who have no basis to expect it.  The answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?” is literally, “Nothing.  It is done.” All this is runs counter to the human expectation that there is something, there must be something, I can do to get into God’s good graces.

The whole Christian life is turned upside down by justification.  Our daily dying is our way of living.  Our suffering becomes our joy.  Our defeats become our triumphs.  Our losses redound to God’s glory and our benefit.  The best thing to happen to us the world calls the worst thing.  Our glory is hidden under the cross of Christ.

Does the religion of justification by faith mean that there is nothing for us to do?  Insofar as this “doing” saves us, that is correct.  We do our good works, not to save ourselves, but help our neighbor, give proof that faith is living and so others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

Christians have always understood that they are to give themselves away to the needs of their neighbor.   The sacrifices of thanksgiving offered by Christians are not offered to God, who has no need of them, but to our neighbor who has desperate need of them (Psalm 50:7-15).  We give ourselves away to their need.  In this world there is never a lack of opportunity to supply the need of our neighbors, whether earthquake, tsunami, flood, unemployment, tornado, wildfire, accident and most recently the hurricanes in the Carolinas and Florida.  Help, give, supply, but do it, not to get rewarded by God, but in response to what God, in Christ, has done for you.

~ Pastor Christensen