Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More on the Last word and the Word after that

I wasn't planning on a string of post's on McLaren's new book but it is causing much mental wrestling.

I read these words found on page 121 in reference to the many gospel passages that speak of behavior, judgement and its consequences.

Neil: What's the point that Jesus is trying to make?
Dan: One thing it defintely wasn't just as you predicted. It wasn't 'hold the right beliefs,' 'affirm the right doctrines' or anything like that. Instead, Jesus was clearly interested in action, in what we do, in how we treat others, especially, and in whether we trust him enough to follow his teaching even if it means difficulty and persecution. It was clear that Jesus wasn't just saying anything goes, everything's OK. He was telling people that they would be held accountable that how they live now would count forever.

As I read that, this passage in Ephesians came to mind.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
My gut reaction, I think mostly from my conservative evangelical background, was "McLaren is advocating a works based theology." I was cringing, thinking okay he is going down a bad road here. Then I went and actually reread the passage from Ephesians, in it's context. When the passage gets cited, verse 10 is often left out. I have read the book of Ephesians numerous times. But as I reread it this time, I was almost surprised as I read v10.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works..."
Why do we leave that part out? Are we just that lazy? The modern church, maybe unwittingly, has been enabling the bad behavior of Christians. "I believe the right things, I am good, I am covered." When in realilty, through God's grace, good works, especially to those and for those on the edges of society are now our responsibility, our mandate, our mission.

These verses are not our eternal get out of jail free card. They are our marching orders. The gift of grace has been lavished upon us. I can think of no more precious gift, nothing more extravagant, nothing more costly. We must live it out. We have been given much. Much is expected from us.

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